Posts Tagged With: soldiers

The Church Militant

We’ve found our parish, our lovely on-post chapel, and I will fully admit that one of the things drawing us to it is one of the chaplains (there are three–three!–though one is currently deployed but will probably be coming back in a month or so), as he is an excellent homilist and I do so love a good homily.

So of course his homily today (the readings for your benefit) made, among others, the very real and salient point that Catholic liturgy is not centered around how it makes us feel or how we want it to make us feel or on ticking off a list of things that seem cool or relevant–it is ultimately centered around Christ, in the Eucharist, and our need to commune with him in order to receive the grace necessary to make it through this life[1]. In today’s Gospel, he pointed out, everyone goes to Peter’s house because that’s where Jesus is, and there, Jesus heals. And so we go to Mass, even when we are feeling like Job, because God wants us to keep talking to Him and to keep coming so that He may work his healing in us, even if we are having difficulty seeing it.

He compared it to going to school, where you might like recess but not the actual learning portions, or to being in the Army, where there is always something to complain about, despite the positive notes. But he also pointed out that these are all things we do in community, that we have classmates and spouses and battle buddies to uplift and support us (to be Paul in his second reading, as we are called to preach the Gospel to each other)–and then, this being a military chapel, he reminded us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, that we are under attack and need the support of our battle buddies, the communication from our commander, and that also we need to be aware that the little it may feel like we’re accomplishing is part of the much bigger, longer fight that we will eventually win–though that victory, like Job’s reward, doesn’t come until the end, until we’ve passed through all the trials. And the Church is the Body of which we are all members, the army to which we all belong, and those rules and rituals she provides for us come from Him Who is her Head. And so we come to a Mass which was given to us on Christ’s terms, not perhaps the ones we would like for him to maybe set forth because they’d be easier or more accessible or entertaining or immediately emotionally gratifying.[2]
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Categories: army life, theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Monuments Men: Not So Much a Review as a Sketch

It is late o’clock and I need to go to bed, but I just finished watching The Monuments Men.

I think it was a little weak in character development at the beginning–I was still trying to get a handle on who everyone was (beyond “Bill Murray” and “John Goodman”) when [major event around which plot eventually coalesces] happened–the emotional impact of said event was powerful, yes, but with just a bit more exposition/time to get our feet under us it really could have been as gut-wrenching as the later [major event] was.

Which, given that that’s my only complaint, really isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. Mostly I spent a fair amount of time with my blanket half-pulled in front of my face, trying desperately to judge the timbre of the scene based on the (fantastically classic) soundtrack, feeling incredibly tense and worried about what was going to happen to everyone and everything. On the one hand, WWII movie; on the other hand, mostly sad and gentle and ultimately triumphant story about old men trying to save art. (There is something to be said here about how Clooney’s restraint in showing gore added to the tension, and the sadness, of the violence. Probably something related to how lingerie is sexy and nudity is not. Another post.) On the one hand, it was a soothing reminder of how important art is to everyone; on the other, it was an urgent reminder of the depths to which the mob mentality can sink.

And how happy was I to see Jean Dujardin? Happier than I could ever possibly express. The Artist is a perfect movie and I would like to see more of him, yes I would.

I cried for art burned and I cried for art saved and the people who were able to view it; I got chills when I saw pieces I recognized, pieces I’d seen, was overcome with the realization that in some ways standing on the beaches of Normandy and standing in front of the Mona Lisa are the same grateful thing.

Part of me was a little broken-hearted for my country, which hasn’t been able to find such a clean fight since.

The message was a bit heavy, perhaps, but so beautifully expressed (both in phrasing and in voice) that I didn’t mind at all.

My parents described this as an adult movie, or a movie for adults, especially in terms of cinematography; I also saw it most in the scenes with James and Claire, which were wonderfully refreshing. Teenagers think one-night stands in Paris are romantic and freeing. Adults understand otherwise.

Writing this is making me miss Roger Ebert.

And bedtime has come, and off I go; this is a movie I would show anyone before they went to Europe.

Oh! And the language barriers! And human communication! And all the little moments of hilarity scattered throughout, telling you that although parts of the story are serious and sad, it’s still okay to laugh; it’s good to laugh, and it doesn’t just have to be gallows humor.

I feel tucked in and safe, at least for tonight; I’ll see y’all in the morning.

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The Walk

I was going to do a post explaining the difference between officers and enlisted soldiers, but it got bogged down in details and acronyms and so it’s on the shelf for another day.

Today I am going to talk about something else: The Walk.

Now, I don’t know how it’s perceived within the military. I highly suspect that once it’s learned it’s not even noticed. And its existence makes sense, and I understand why it happens, but it does not make it any less annoying.

All soldiers walk the same.

I mean obviously they do, they train to march in formation, part of being in formation is being exactly like everyone else, but they do it OUTSIDE formation as well. And it’s a very specific walk: the steps are probably whatever length the person’s legs require in order to match the person they learned to march next to (a problem you probably also see among marching band alum); the arms swing in a not-quite-natural rhythm at a not-quite-natural distance from the body. The hands are half-curled and the arms have a somewhat gorilla-esque curve to them. The shoulders…we won’t say swagger, but noticeably shift from side to side. It’s not a march, but it’s a learned step, and if your soldier is wearing a uniform, they’re walking this way.

And honestly it’s really only vexing when they’re in uniform when they do it, mostly because I cannot count the number of times I’ve been sitting in the car waiting for my husband to emerge from the building only to be confronted with a wave of round-abouts-six-feet-tall men in uniform Walking towards me…no…wait that one’s hair might be too short…no the hair’s okay, are those his sunglasses? wait he’s coming this way he’s coming…no they’re all going…towards their cars because their cars are not my car because they are NOT MY HUSBAND HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN EVEN BE IN THAT BUILDING YOU SAID YOU’D BE DONE TEN MINUTES AGO.

The rest of this post could be a reflection on uniformity and diversity in the Army, but I spent twenty minutes in ninety-five-degree heat waiting for my husband this afternoon (which I’d rather do than deal with the hassle of affording a second car) and the heat has sapped my strength, mental and physical. Besides, we’ve barely even talked about what the Army is! Who the Army is! It’s far too soon to be reflecting.

So for now, I leave you with the fact: all soldiers walk the same.

Categories: army life | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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