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If I Die in a Combat Zone

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    Is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, thus, withdrawing a person from the quality of being fearless. Or it can take a turn and possess you and alienate you into making you a coward. Soldiers are the definition of courageous people. Because they are brave individuals who will kill enemies and sacrifice their own personal desires and safety for the greater good. In “If I Die in a Combat Zone”, Tim O’Brien is faced to face a war in which he does not believe its morally right. For twenty-one years Tim O’Brien grew up in a small town in Worthington Minnesota where he encountered an immediate aftermath of World War II where he segmented his idolization for the U.S military as he learned stories taken from courageous returned soldiers. In addition to the Korean war also unfolding during his early childhood, which helped increased his military influence.

    He was a young man who lived his life under the law and accepted its education of serving in the war. However, as the summer passed he began to see that the war was wrong because people were dying as a result of it.  And he “did not want to die. Not ever. And certainly not then, and not there, not in the wrong war”. A war that he thought was wrongly conceived and poorly justified. He states that “Wise courage requires insight”. “courage is a certain kind of preserving”. And believes that courage is just a characteristic that an American man is known to have just because they are willing to fight for their country. Unfortunately, men were forced to fill vacancies in the United States Armed Forces that could not be filled though voluntary means. However, O’Brien actions fall short to his ideal because he is still forced to fight in a war he strongly doesn’t feel is morally right and is forced to face captains who completely contradict his viewpoint regarding the war. For example, as Tim arrives to Vietnam he is received with intense military training in mine sweeping, military training, and in mine sweeping, grenade throwing, and the tactical elements of jungle warfare.

    Where he is then assigned to Alpha Company where he encounters Captain Johansen who defines bravery as the most important characteristic for him in Landing Zone Gator “who gave a damn about the causes of the war. He said that it is about dinks and slopes, and the idea is simply to kill them or avoid them. Except in alpha you don’t kill a man, you waste him”. A few weeks later a local village that Alpha Company was protecting, later gets shelled and O’Brien is then offered a position at the rear and is airlifted out of the combat zone. Where he later encounters major Callicles who sees himself as a soldier on a crusade to fight the modernization and liberation of the U. S Military. “courage is not passing around passively hoping for things to happen right, it’s going out and being tough and sharp thinking and making things happen right”. Which completely contradicts his views of the US military going into war. It is important for Tim Obrien to be courageous because war is seen as a courageous. Because war is described as thrilling and a drudgery. Its what makes you a” man”. It’s a characteristic an American man is known to possess. Thus, making it extremely important for Tim O’ Brien to be courageous. They say a soldier’s greatest fear is the fear of blushing. Men were killed and were attacked because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place.

    Nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died as not to die of embarrassment. They crawled into tunnels and walked point and advanced under fire. Each morning despite the unknowns they made their legs move. They endured. They kept humping. They did not submit to the obvious alternative that would make one feel like a coward. Because as many soldiers say, “those who lack courage, have cowardliness” which make them fantasize about the courageous acts that are motivated by fear and shame.” Thus, explaining why, courage is a complex emotion for Tim O’Brien because it’s a commodity for short supply. Like many soldiers says, “soldiers feel courage at the same time they feel terror and despair”. In light of his frank descriptions of his own lack of valor, I would act the same way Tim O, Brien did because fighting in combat is not an easy thing to do. I mean your expected to something you didn’t sign up for. Of course, it comes with fear because no one know what to expect because they’re not the ones going through this. Although many soldiers see it as a sign of pride; because they are truly proud of the nation they live in and would do whatever it takes to keep anyone from intruding and causing them harm.

    Soldiers come with responsibility which has them sacrifice their life just to save another. Which is an act of valor, but it’s not something everyone wants to do. A lot of soldiers would do it for a love one but rarely for a stranger unless there really patriarchal. So, to them A life is a life and a life worth saving. However, killing someone just because one is taught that a soldier that is not part of your nation cannot be an ally is a controversy to those soldiers who see war as black and white. And are unconscious of the actions being taken. Which are reasons why Tim O’Brien sees the war as wrong and unprejudiced. Lastly, this book has showed me some different viewpoints regarding bravery. Because you are taught that bravery is a lack of fear, but everything is done because of that fear.

    Without that fear one wouldn’t have the courage to do the things one is expected to do. Tim O’Brien was forced to do something he never wanted to be apart of. Although fear was running through his veins all throughout the book he never fled the country like he wanted to. “I simply couldn’t bring myself to flee”. He had the chance to flea to Canada, he had a plan set in mind. But he never had the courage to do so. Why? Because deep down he knew it was his patriotic duty. A sentiment that was learned from his community and his parents who met in the navy during world war II. My perspective changed to seeing bravery as nothing but fear built inside that causes one to take risks and do things that one wouldn’t normally do.

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    If I Die in a Combat Zone. (2022, Mar 21). Retrieved from

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