What is like to go to war by Karl Marlantes | My Paper Hub
It Is Like to Go to War
is a powerful nonfi...
It Is Like to Go to War
is a powerful nonfiction piece of introspection by Karl Marlantes. He wrote it
years after returning home from the Vietnam War. Karl Marlantes juts like all
the other warriors that return home from a mission to serve their country in
war engaged in recording a variety of martial legacy in various forms of
literary. Some involved in writing to claim their place in history while other
like Karl Marlantes in the book wrote to offer counsel and an introspection of
his service in War (Gillam). All theses attempt
by Marlantes just the other Veterans before him and his time engaged in writing
this literature in pursuit of the elusive catharsis called closure after a
traumatic experience in combat. Even after writing Matterhorn a fictional
literary on War, Marlantes needed closure that was not coming decades after his
days in combat. Marlantes just like the others with and before him needed
closure from fighting to move on with his life due to the haunting images that
came with a battle. Therefore, the book was a search for closure not just for
Marlantes but also for his fellow veterans as indicated in the paper below.
What It Is Like to Go to Wars a book
based on Karl Marlantes personal experience in combat. He extends propositions
to the general society on how to approach the war and how the warriors need to
be prepared before they are sent to war. Drawing from his personal experiences
in the Vietnam War as a young reserve officer in the Marine Corps, he
formulates a proposal to equip better the young soldiers that society expects
to send to war. In the book, he asserts that the individuals need emotional and
psychological preparation for the reality that there would be death at the war
front. He also calls upon them to treat the enemy with humanity and to use violence
in an ethical manner and should be encouraged that combat can be enjoyable and
thrilling. Moreover, given the necessary tools to cope with the feelings of
shame they have, they can successfully be rehabilitated after the War. In the
book, Marlantes admits to having enjoyed combat but reflects on the sadness and
emptiness he now feels years after the ending of the war in a period of
retrospect. Therefore, the book indicates the need to offer the Veterans a
period to “detoxify” after leaving combat before returning home to the regular
citizens. The society also needs to recognize its role in preparing and
welcoming back the warriors, and he called upon the leaders to take on a
"warrior's dictum" not to use violence unnecessarily and that they also
have the power to mobilize troops hence are warriors as well. Marlantes further
asserts on the need to engage in War for valid reasons and to try other means
before resulting to violence and that the violence should be made as short as
possible to end the warfare as fast as possible. There should also be a
mechanism to reintegrate the warriors back to the society upon their return.
Marlantes uses the metaphor of Mars the Roman god of War to urge reconnection
of the concepts of war and justice present in the earliest forms of god
Karl Marlantes was a young reserve
officer in the Marine Corps studying on a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford
University and then entered active service and joined the Vietnam War. While
serving in Vietnam, he was an active combat officer commanding fighters in the
thick jungle and witnessed death on a daily basis and was wounded by a grenade
himself. He received several medals for his actions including the Navy Cross
one of the highest combat awards. Upon his return from the War, Marlantes
continued his studies at Oxford and went into military intelligence in
Washington DC (Gillam). As a Veteran, he
witnessed animosity from many Americans that had opposed engagement in the
Vietnam War with some individuals avoiding or confronting him on his role in
the War. He also struggled significantly with haunting visions and nightmares
as well as anger and sought to help through therapy. It is the backdrop of the
experience that inspired him to write the book what It Is Like to Go to War as
a form of introspection or a memoir of his experience in Vietnam to get
closure. He writes openly and freely about, his experiences and does not shy
away from recognizing his responsibilities (Marlantes, 1-257).
The closure is the ending of a significant
phase in a person’s life that may be difficult and painful especially if the
experience was one that was traumatic such as the one that soldiers have in
combat. The closure is being able to let go of the experiences and life.
Therefore, finding closure is to have a complete acceptance of what is
happening and honoring of the transition that is in the ways of leaving the
past behind. It is a fundamental aspect for every Veteran to have because War
changes the majority of the people and they need a form of reintegration into
the society (Van Hiel and Mervielde, 558).
However, there is majority of individuals that bring the war back home
experiencing nightmares and other symptoms of posttraumatic stress. There are
others that may have a strong sense of guilt and shame for the things they did
in war and hence the need to offer mechanisms for the Veterans to let go of
that past. If they do not have closure, it may result in serious issues with
the society such as violence, anger, and even suicide among those that cannot
cope with the effects. It also leads to problems with blending back into
society meaning that such individuals may be impossible to lead a normal
productive life after the war. Therefore, closure is fundamental for the
soldiers (Van Hiel and Mervielde, 558).
In the book, Marlantes indicates the
need for closure in the chapters and the discussions that he presents. The book
conveyed in a series of topics has chaptered such as “killing”, “Guilt”,
“Heroism”, “The Club” and “Coming Home” of the Combat Veterans (Gillam). It is a direct effort to share the
experiences of the Veterans in the different areas right from war to home. It
also indicates the efforts of the Veterans to support one another to go past
the war through the formation of the club as shown in one of the chapters.
Marlantes further asserts that they have waited for long to get a resolution
after returning home. He says, “I agree, that Vietnam veterans, and their
contemporaries, too, have waited too long for a resolution of these issues.” He
refers to the issues that they bring home from the war. He further asserts that
the factors of class, race, educational limitations, and culture had left many
veterans uncommunicative of their experiences of which communication of
experiences is the fundamental step to going past an experience. To achieve
closure, the individual needs to communicate their feelings and communicate so
as to ace[pt their responsibility in the situation to own up the experiences
which leads to a step forward as the pain, anger, guilt, and shame will be
lifted as one talks about the experiences (Gillam).
For there to be closure, there is a
need for the individual to have some time to grieve the loss or rather come to
terms with what they have witnessed or having to leave behind an experience.
They should be offered an opportunity to grief in a time frame to ensure that
an individual is ready for integration into society or to move forward (Van
Hiel and Mervielde, 559). Failure to have a chance to grieve
may lead to poor choices later. It is a factor that is emphasized by Marlantes
in the book when he recommends the need for the society and the system to offer
a grace period for the Veterans to come to terms with the war before going them
back into the society. A debrief and a
period of preparation of the individual to going back to the civilian is
critical to ensure that they are all ready to face the world and leave the war
and its experiences behind (Gillam).
There is also need to have a plan for
the future for the individual to be able to have closure (Van Hiel
and Mervielde, 560). Marlantes emphasizes the need to prepare
the soldiers before they go to the war on the realities they are bound to face
while in war. He asserts that they need to be aware of the death they may face
there watching their colleague die and killing the enemy as well. He,
therefore, calls upon leaders to ensure that the war is one that is justified
and for the right reasons not just politically motivated violence but since
violence as the last result. Moreover, he reiterates the need to have a plan
for the Veterans so that they can have something to fall back on their return
home. It is because many veterans unlike him that were privileged to have a
good education majority of the other Veterans had no education and also were
racial, culturally and economically disadvantaged leaving them hollow and
wallowing in the war (Gillam).
In conclusion, the book What It Is Like
to Go to War by Karl Marlantes is an articulated and complex search for closure
by a veteran for his fellow veterans and himself. It is written in an
empathetic voice as the author shares his experiences in combat and makes a
recommendation on how to rehabilitate and also pre[pare the warriors before and
after the war. It is like a guide on how to find closure and protect the soul
of the soldiers sent to fight to serve and protect their country.
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