If I was your friend and we served together and you died doing what you believed in, would your soul wish I had a terrible life of pain and suffering?!
Life Instead of Death
When someone gives his life to save your life, you must not waste it. If someone buys your life at the price of his life, you do not dare waste it. Your moral, sacred responsibility is to lead the fullest, richest, best life you can.
Think about this, right now, ahead of time, while you are calm and rational. If you were the one to die and your buddy lived, you would want him to have the best life possible. You died to give him that.
Many warriors in their hour of despair have done the wrong thing, seeking a permanent solution to a temporary problem. They would have sworn that they would never consider suicide. At the moment of truth, however, they did the wrong thing because they had not, with all their heart and soul, worked through it ahead of time.
Dr. Grossman uses the following, to make his point:
Saving Private Ryan. Do you remember the end of the movie, when the last Ranger, Captain Miller, lay dying on the bridge? He looks up at Ryan, he looks up at us, and what are his dying words? “Earn this. Earn it.” Earn it. Be worthy. Don’t waste it.
Do you remember the old man at the very end of the movie standing over the grave of his comrades with his grandbabies and his great-grandbabies bouncing all around him? He looks over at his wife, and says, “Tell me I’ve led a good life. Tell me I’ve been a good man.”
How can we equip ourselves, train ourselves, and prepare ourselves so that we will not be found wanting at our moment of truth? How can we “earn” this? As warriors, we can learn, strive and prepare ourselves but in the end we can never truly earn it. We can, however, strive to do our best, like Private Ryan, and dedicate ourselves, ahead of time to master survivor guilt and lead the full, rich and productive life that has been purchased for us at such a dear cost.
One U.S. military leader wrote these words as he witnessed his soldiers engage in great acts of valor: Dear God, where do we get such men? What loving God has provided, that each generation, afresh, there should arise new giants in the land. Were we to go but a single generation without such men, we should surely be both damned and doomed.
Pain shared is pain divided (D. Grossman)