Thurman P. Woodfork

WHERE IS THE WARRIOR KING?

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: April 12, 2004
Awarded: April 12, 2004
When we hear men speak of bravery and brotherhood in war and we watch them as they kneel in prayer over the limp, still warm form of a slain friend, we should do more than empathize or parrot self-righteous prattle about ‘supporting the troops’.

When we see them rocking in bone-deep anguish, clasping close in helpless grief the bloody remains of what was once a living, vibrant person, perhaps we should demand to know, “Where is our ‘Warrior King’?”

Maybe he should be there on the field of battle with his soldiers.

Let him inhale the awful odors of violent death; let him hear the cries and moans of the injured, let him live with the open wounds and the bloody body parts strewn about by the careless hand of war while rockets are still exploding and bullets still ricocheting.

Let the genesis of future nightmares and vivid flashbacks be planted deep to germinate and finally bloom in his psyche.

As it is now, few of our leaders have experienced at first hand the true, gut-wrenching, elemental emotions and feel of war. Some say that’s not necessary; I say it can’t hurt.

Soldiers fight over the same streets and neighborhoods again and again, and they do it because men thousands of miles from the actual fighting and dying mandated unsuccessful, shortsighted strategies. Would the orders have been different if the leaders were sharing the battlefield dangers with the soldiers?

Patton said that he did not want to die for his country; he wanted to insure that the enemy died for his. I echo that and would add: But first, make sure that it’s necessary for anyone at all to die.

Actually, we really don’t need a ‘Warrior King’; we do need more competent civilian leaders who will listen to and rely upon the judgment of the military leaders who have to implement their orders.

I’m afraid we don’t have the equivalent of a ‘Warrior King’ or leaders who will wisely use the admirals and generals who stand in his place.

If we did, perhaps our efforts in this ‘War on Terror’ would have been concentrated more in Afghanistan in pursuit of bin Laden and his terrorists. If we did, perhaps less time would be spent vacationing down on the ranch while our youth bleed and die in the sands and streets of the Middle East.

Just speculating.

Thurman P. Woodfork: Where is the Warrior King?
American Soldiers Pray before a Patrol in Iraq: 2004

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhood’s cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

From Henry V by William Shakespeare