It’s a bit late for Memorial Day in the US, but I wanted to write this anyway. I still play the game Halo: Combat Evolved at home using Linux (via WINE emulator), and there’s always one scene I remember. It’s here in this video, around 6:30 – 6:55.
The soldier asks Master Chief, “We’re going to make it, aren’t we sir? I don’t want to die out here.”
The story of Halo: Combat Evolved is about a single military ship that is lost in deep space, trying to stay alive against a hopelessly more powerful alien force on a strange ring-shaped world. By the end of the game, nearly all the humans are overwhelmed and dead. No one but the Master Chief returns to Earth.
When I think about that soldier in Halo, I imagine soldiers in the past, before they went into famous battles like Normandy, Gettysburg and so on. I bet many soldiers in real life felt the same way, afraid they wouldn’t come home. Some didn’t.
It’s a reminder that soldiers are human, but they did their duty to their country, and some paid the price. They’re not invincible like Master Chief, they’re just like us, except for their sacrifice. They are our brothers, sisters, daughters and sons.
In a perfect world, we would not fight wars, and we would not lose our loved ones. As Julia Ward Howe, the author of the Battle-hymn of the Republic, wrote in 1870:
“Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
“….Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage…Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience.”
But for those who did make the sacrifice out of duty for their country, who faced their fears and went into battle anyway, thank you.