i ll be coming home soon,with a soldiers eyes

Sir i got lost on my way to college sir”,this outburst was going to cost him,this slight rebellion was not going to go unpunished.The question asked by the drill Sargent was,”why are you here son?”,yelled into the face of this trainee soldier,motivation in its rawest form.These men were army men,they were the elite of the elite,the rising stars in the ranks,young men,with something to prove,needing direction,fresh faced and enlisted.This was the path they has chosen to take,in an attempt to discipline themselves,self master,serve there country,find out what they are made of.They can all talk the talk,now these boys will walk the walk.I have been watching them most of the day,learning about their routines,doing a research paper on what it means to be a modern-day soldier.It is an assignment for a English lit class I’m taking at community college,luckily this town has a military academy for men and woman to come and train.The visitor badge around my neck allows me access to the training grounds,now i get to see up-close just what set these men apart.

For obvious reasons i was not allowed my laptop,my iPod sits in a plastic container along with my disassembled phone and any personal effects.I was provided with a pen and paper,given a guide to make sure i didn’t wander into restricted areas,other than that it was just any other day.The first five minutes with my “guide”had set the pace for mine and his working relationship,I ask a question,he says no comment,i ask a yet another impersonal question,he has no comment,i ask to see a building or classroom he turns on his heel,and i fall in line to follow.Time seems non-existent,i arrived here before 4 30am and already the camp was a hive of activity,flags flying high,pledges made,warm up drills underway,step two-three four.The pa announces it time for mess hall,the soldiers line up,in order,they sound off,they stand for inspection,are given a scrutinizing once over by their battalion  officer,and then are dismissed.Still they don’t simple all go on their way,they turn left,and file suit behind the last man in line.There are colour coded lines drawn on the tarmac surrounding the buildings,each of them leads to a separate door.The company i am watching now follow along the yellow line.

The rebel ,[i got bored,decided to name them just to pass the time,there is only so many push ups,and field drills i can watch,before it gets a bit repetitive and tedious]is now in front of his commanding officer.I have made a lot of progress in my work.Already i have ideas and new perspective to write my paper,but i cant help but to listen in now.”What does this say to you”,he points to his chest,his name tag,rank and accomplishments are neatly sown in gold under an American flag.I await the rebels response.He takes his time,lowers his head,another few seconds pass,he rises to met his commanding officers gaze,and says “Sir, the Drill Instructor looks fabulous in his uniform, sir!!”.I crack a smile,i cant help it,i turn not wanting to interrupt,still slightly unsure what was to come between these two,i move to the shadow of the building opposite to get a better view of their stand off.Just as i take shelter the first few drops of a rain begin to fall.Holding the notebook up as if going over lines I’ve written,my gaze is fixed over the top of the paper,as i watch these two men.One a seasoned veteran,the other barely two years older than my own sixteen year old brother.

Here he is,my rebel,covered in mud and grass stains,sweat poring from his face,breathe hovering in front of him,in the crisp cold January mid afternoon air.He is the appitimy of that comedic guy in class who lives for attention.Perhaps I’ve just gained some insight into why he is here,maybe it was some last-ditch effort to get him to take his life seriously,to earn a living,and have something to show for himself.The drill Sargent chuckles,that can’t be a good thing i think to myself,just what happens when you cross the line with a corporal?i would have asked my silent guide,but i was sure i was about to find out.Are you eyeballing me with those baby-blues? Are you?barks his commanding officer,Sir, no sir! ,yells rebel.Are you in love with me?,rebel pauses,trying to school his face into a serious expression before he responds,Sir, no sir!,the first sir holds a hint of a laugh he is struggling to contain,he rights himself,and is back to a serious respectful tone as he finishes the second sir, Why, you don’t think I look good in my uniform?a harsh tone which didn’t fit his robust commanding voice and didn’t match the words he had just uttered.Rebel takes a few seconds to collect himself,before screaming back in a matter of fact tone.Sir, the Drill Instructor looks excellent in his uniform, sir!,the drill instructor takes a half step forward,looking rebel straight in the eyes,so you’re gay then and you love me!again his serious tone does not match what he has just said,making the whole situation of these two uniformed men all the more surreal,Sir, I’m not gay, sir,less tensed then he was before,rebel realises he isn’t in any serious trouble for his earlier outbursts,smug in the fact his commander does indeed have a warped sense of humour,You got a girlfriend,? Sir, yes sir!.good!.

For all their hard man fronts, for all their male prowess,status,tough guy exterior,and male bravado of the modern army man,they are still,at the end of the day, our brothers,our fathers,uncles,and college crushes.They are just regular everyday guys,who will return to there lives once there tour of duty is over,with dreams of  9-5s,school runs and morning traffic,suburban family life.They will return to their home communities,once they leave here,integrate back into society,resume there lives,and ambitions.I realize this as i watch the DI place rebel into a loose choke hold,both as these army men mess around,unable to carry on the pretence of not being intentionally overly sarcastic,or being offended by the earlier show of disrespect.The guy code of brotherhood and comradery lives long and prospers it seems,amused and touched by this act of defiance and mutual understanding,i begin to see another side to academy life.They both straighten up,salute,rebel is dismissed,and both men walk the corner of the field before falling in line and heading towards the mess hall.I scribble down a few stances,and walk the blue line towards the entrance,gather my effects,sit in my car,hands on the steering wheel,i look over the gate and see the motto.

Duty,honour,country.This we defend. 

I turn on the ignition,Breaking Benjamin-unknown soldier on the playlist,i press play,and drive towards town,secured in the fact that men like those i met, will be there,day in day out.

                                                                                                                          Wingstruck.

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~ by wingstruck on January 28, 2011.

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