01 December 2012
The True Definition of Courage
After reading the poem "Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen, I realized, based on my own personal combat experiences and the combat experiences of Owen, the only word that could possibly describe the poem was courage. Throughout my time in the military, I have been instructed that courage is one of the fourteen leadership traits. Traits are qualities of thoughts and actions, which, if demonstrated in daily activities, help warriors earn the respect, confidence, and loyal cooperation of fellow warriors. There are two different kinds of courage. Moral courage is having the inner ...view middle of the document...
Even though I have never rushed into a barrage of enemy gunfire to win a battle, I have been on the receiving end of enemy gunfire, returned fire, drug wounded comrades out of the line of fire, and held onto dying men while trying to save their life. That in itself should suffice as deeming me as a relevant and reliable source, by which the following is my own personal interview used to support the claim of courage.
Moral Courage is not a complicated concept; it is merely the act of doing the right thing when it is much easier to do otherwise. It is often said that human beings have a "moral compass" inside, an invisible mechanism that automatically points people toward the right thing to do. Sometimes circumstances can shake your compass so badly that, for a time, it no longer points true. However, when you reflect on your values, the compass needle always seems to set you on the right course. At some point in everyone’s life, there has been an incident of some type that no one has witnessed, except you. Moreover, if you just walk away you could pretend as if it never happened, quite possibly saving yourself hundreds of dollars, lots of embarrassment, or even time in jail, but that moral compass inside takes over and points you in the right direction. It helps you make the right decision and in turn, you do the right thing. The entirety of the poem is one big example of moral courage. All of the young infantrymen used their moral compass to point them in the right direction and by standing up for what they believed in, they had the moral courage to join the military, endure countless days, weeks and months of intense training, with many shedding blood, sweat, and tears. In addition, all of them were following their moral compass and had the moral courage to rise and fight against the evil German army.
Although not quite as important as moral courage, physical courage also plays an important role. Physical courage is probably what comes to mind when people think about the military in combat. They have grand images of brave men, rushing into a hail of gunfire, fighting to save their brother-in-arms, or fighting back untold numbers of the enemy, as most war movies depict. There are just as many, if not more, untold stories of battlefield valor as there are of the ones told; stories that might describe warriors who have gone above and beyond the call of duty like John Basilone, Audie Murphy, Robert Ingram, and Michael Murphy. Within the poem, there are also a few examples that exemplify the true military definition of physical courage, the mental quality that recognizes fear of danger, but enables a man to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness. “Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots. But limped on, blood-shod” (Owen), and “Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind” (Owen), but they continued to fight.
The title of the poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est”...