The Hero Behind the Uniform

What is a soldier? If asked most would give the brief description of a man or a woman who wears the military uniform and serves their country. This is a fine description if you’re trying to pick the soldier out of a crowd of nuns but it hardly describes the person behind the uniform.

Of course we’re all unique, and even the same haircut and clothing can’t take that away from our troops (though boot camp does attempt to come close). Yet, I can’t help but think that there must be something deep down inside of each soldier that, when called to serve their country, transform an everyday person into a hero that will put their lives on the line in order to do what they believe is right.

Today I read an article regarding the Canadian soldier, Pte. Rob Costall, who died recently in Afghanistan. The article told of how Pte. Costall had died next to American Sgt. Tom Stone, which is thought to be the first time an American and Canadian have died together in war in half a century. What struck me as I read this article was, despite many external differences such as age, location and present circumstances, there were certain similarities in each man’s reason for joining the military.

Both men were described as searching for a sense of belonging and a way to make a difference. I believe it’s a soldier’s deep seeded longing to somehow make the world a better place that allows them to give the sacrifices they do.

Sure, on the surface most military members I know are just your average folk. Most are married with kids, they have a mortgage, they have a car payment or two and they love to take time off work and go on vacation with the kids. Pretty standard stuff and nothing that would make you think there’s a hero sleeping somewhere deep inside. That’s the interesting part though, isn’t it?

A hero isn’t the guy in the red cape or the woman with the knee high boots and magic lasso. Those characters really didn’t have anything else going on in their lives so why wouldn’t they risk it all if nothing is really waiting for them at home?

No—a hero, cleverly disguised as a soldier, is someone who, for whatever reason, doesn’t just want to sit back and hope the world becomes a better place. They want to stand up and do their part to make sure it happens and they do this by kissing their loved ones goodbye, getting on a plane, and leaving all the comforts of home behind to put their lives on the line half a world away.

So next time you see a soldier give some thought to the person behind the uniform. I can pretty much guarantee they didn’t change clothes in a phone booth or spring out of a bat cave but they did have to say a tearful farewell to the people they love in order to fight for the freedoms of people they have never met.