Monday, February 2, 2015

The Spoils Of War

There was once a kind and merciful General.  His joy of the study of war could only be matched by his love for the soldiers who trained dutifully beneath him.  Day in and day out, he could be seen in the barracks beside his men.  He was both dogged and forgiving, relentless but affable.  His mind was laser sharp, and his physical agility could match that of any of his much younger recruits.

He was a nationalist.  More willing to devote his life to the calling of country than to risk those of the young people who gathered around him.  So his attention to detail was incessant, his expectations for his pupils absolute.  His men both feared and adored him.  Their greatest dread was disappointing the man who placed so much energy into their training.

And this General gained the reputation of having the tightest, most well trained crew. Their physical abilities only outmatched by their mental toughness and strategic planning.  Other troops vied to join this proud gathering of young men.  Many found that they were not tough enough, their skills too weak.

Because of his great ability and courage, the General was often asked to lead his men into battle.  He studied each engagement with great concentration, and spent many a night locked away in his office trying to divine the infinite possibilities of war.  He did not take such responsibilities lightly, and felt the acute sting of placing his troops in harms way.

There was one painful truth to being the General.  While he studied maps and battle formations, it was his men who put their lives on the line.  He encouraged, threatened, and persuaded such young hearts to risk all for him.  For country.  

He had once done so.  He had watched his brothers fall in battle beside him, and yet carried on.  He had tasted both blood and sweat stream from his own brow.  He had seen many victories and quite a few losses over the years.  He survived long enough that eventually he was promoted out of the line of fire.  His knowledge and abilities were now thought too precious.

Year after year he toiled in the name of war.  Engagements were won and lost.  At the end of the day it was often hard to tell the difference. Each battle zone was littered with the bodies of men whom he loved dearly.

Some lives saved,

others mortally wounded by decisions that only he could have made.  

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