Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Paratrooper's Faith

As a young paratrooper, I remember having to conquer my fears again and again, and usually failing miserably. Soldiering, especially in the parachute infantry, is a difficult life, although quite rewarding in its own way. Anyway, I had this small book, almost a pamphlet really, called A Paratrooper's Faith. I think it was put together by some troopers parents during the Vietnam-era, but I'm not really sure anymore. It was a collection of inspirational quotes, poems, songs, etc. designed to both motivate and console the trooper in hard times.

My copy got dog-earred quickly, since I carried it in my cammies all the time, so it soon became necessary for me to move on to step two: creating my own edition. I don't know if the young troopers of today's Army still get them, but I often read through mine and still find the words comforting. One of my favorites was always this piece by Robert Service:

Give me to live and love in the old, bold fashion-
A soldier's billet at night and a soldier's ration.
A heart that leaps to the fight with a soldier's passion.

For I hold as a simple faith there's no denying,
The trade of a soldier the only trade worth plying;
The death of a soldier the only death worth dying.

Go 'til the word is war- and then you will find me.

Then you will call me and claim me because you will need me;
Cheer me and gird me and into battle wrath speed me;
And when it's over, spurn me and no longer heed me.

There's a glory gold never can buy to yearn and to cry for;
There's a hope that's as bold as the sky to suffer and sigh for;
There's a faith that out-dazzles the sun to martyr and die for.

To the warrior-poets of my youth, I hope it helps. Godspeed!


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