Tonight in my in basket I found one of those sentimental seasonal messages beseeching me to think of the lonely soldier hunkered down in a fox hole. I did, but my thoughts wandered.
Soldiers fight in different fields every day. Some take up arms and march to war in distant lands. They risk their lives often for nebulous goals or so that some unethical politician can score political points. Most will tell you they're fighting for the guy next to them, their buddies, the other guys in the patrol or platoon. Many don't even know why they're in the fight, or even care. They fight simply to survive. The nobility is added by people in comfortable rooms far from the fight.
Some soldiers pick up sutures and needles and fight to save lives in operating rooms. They're called surgeons. Others carry on the fight in labs. These people fight against incredible odds for years and years. They make tiny incremental gains against disabling diseases. They're called research scientists and doctors.
Some soldiers march into a class room to fight ignorance and to give the gift of knowledge not just to the poor and the down trodden but sometimes to the middle class and wealthy who have become trapped in the rhetoric of fools.
Some soldiers fight for your soul. They reach out and try to help people to a better path be it Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Jewish or whatever.
Some are lawyers fighting to put criminals away or to protect those wrongly accused.
Many march off to dreary everyday jobs so they can provide for their families and children, they're called loving parents.
There are few parades for these people, few statutes and few words. By and large they are forgotten.
In 2008 I met a soldier who in fighting for his life asked others to join in the battle with him. Many responded and took up the fight. They were not able to engage his enemy directly but they gave their support to help sustain the fight that will in the end bring his enemy low.
Strangers, family and friends answered that call. The smallest contribution was a handful of coins, the largest was counted in the hundreds of dollars.
This soldiers fight took him into places that his supporters could not follow. Twice he fought major battles. Seven times he has fought minor skirmishes. Yet the war is not won but only at a stand still. His fight will last another two years if he can see it through to the end. The outcome is uncertain.
Yet throughout his battle he never asked anyone to help him. He only asked that people help others. During his battle he has been cut and bled countless times. Without drugs to easy the pain he grits his teeth and takes the cuts.
That soldiers life was enriched by all those friends and strangers who stepped up. Sadly he was left with one bleeding wound which he knows not how to heal. It came not from a knife but from words spoken by a loved one, "We've already given." The man's worth measured and found not worthy.
Personally I think 40 pieces of silver would have been a lighter burden to carry.