Borrowed Valor

Look, we don’t want to spend all our time thinking about it. We did what we did; it was what it was, and now we’d like to get on with our lives, please.

Some of us are staggered by the weight of our experiences. Others were one-and-done, but all of us went places and did things that you, perhaps, did not.

Some of y’all say that’s courageous and some of you privately (or not so privately) think we’re baby-killing monsters, but either way your opinion means shit.

Unless you faced the fire (or at least a shrieking drill cadre), you’ve been issued a full ration of no idea what the hell you’re talking about. That experience is different in different services, and different at different duty stations, but wherever we went and whatever we did was at no point and in no way remotely like your movie-fueled fantasies. It did not resemble whatever second-hand insights you synthesized from the stories we told. The war stories you hear cover up the stories we only tell each other.

It’s a joke and a cliché and the truest thing you’ll ever hear from us: “You weren’t there, man.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

We didn’t sign up to be your icons. We’ll be your villains if you really need that, but you don’t get to speak for us. Even less do you get to use our lives and our bodies and our pain to score political points.

Lace on our boots and walk forward into the fire with us, and then you can join the conversation. Short of that, every last one of you untested, uninvested civilian pukes are cordially invited to keep your damn mouths shut. You’ll never start to understand the things we’ve seen by running your ignorant mouths.

Medical personnel put in long hours, sweat, prepare to earn coveted badge |  Article | The United States Army

As for my fellow hard men in the brotherhood of the DD214, I want you to think about exactly whose boots are on which ground before the next time you decide to open your yap about abortion: specifically not yours.

Only women (including our sister vets) have ever lived at the tip of that spear. You’re in the rear with the beer, and you always have been.

Don’t be that loudmouth poseur, pretending you are what you’re not. It ain’t a good look. “Lessons learned” are imparted by people who learned ‘em the hard way, not by Rumor Control or internet “research” or “strongly held beliefs.” So maybe, just maybe, on the topic of things you’ll never have to face, YOU shut up and listen for a while.

Yeah. That goes for lesser men, too.

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  1. Dennis W says

    Well played, sir! Well played. I agreed with everything you wrote but did not see that pivot coming. As a card carrying member of the “never have I ever been in either of those groups”, I will stand over here and listen. And hopefully learn.

  2. Jean Maybell says

    Thank you!!!! I did not expect that, but I certainly appreciate your words!!
    I hope people will listen and learn! Thank you.

  3. Yet another reason I love you!!!

    You’ve faced your fires, I’ve faced mine. Together we are mutually stronger for being part of one another’s lives.

  4. Yet another reason I love you dearly!

    You have been through your fires, and I have been through mine. Together we are mutually stronger for being part of one another’s lives.

  5. Nora Carrington says

    Well done, sir. Thanks.

  6. Was there.
    Have the “t-shirt”.
    We’ll said, I concur.

  7. Don R. Clark says

    Right on, Jack. God! I’ve missed your writing, your insights. Carry on, man. Your words speak for many.

  8. Daniel Schwab says

    Thank you, Sir. I have not served but am appreciative of all who have, and firmly believe if you have not been there, then you have no idea. Your words always seem to transport me including the moto mag articles, and your books. I bought and read (x3) Nothing In Reserve, Head Check, Coming and Going. I share your love of motorcycles. Godspeed Jack Lewis.

  9. Have read your writing for years and always find it informative and entertaining. If your followers are mostly like me they also may not feel that these specific words are falling on the intended ears.

  10. Tom Ortiz-Owens says

    Thank you, as always, Jack. I believe that listening and learning from others life experiences is a prerequisite for a functional democracy.

    Be well, my friend, and keep up the good work.

  11. well said sir- spoken for all with unearned opinions of those whose shoes (or boots) we have never walked in

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