Blog Machine City

Postcards from Tradocia

The call of duty

Today is Veteran’s Day, nee Armistice Day, the 91st anniversary of the end of World War I, the war that was supposed to end them all but of course did nothing of the sort. Now the holiday commemorates the veterans of all of America’s wars. Unlike Memorial Day, which honors the fallen, I think Veteran’s Day is for both the living and the dead, for while the dead have paid the ultimate price, the living pay a price as well.

It sometimes seems a little silly to quote heavy metal for “serious” topics (I had a girlfriend once who had an admirer who courted her with Meat Loaf lyrics), but a few modern bands have songs about soldiers. Iron Maiden’s “These Colours Don’t Run:”


It’s the same in every country
when you say you’re leaving
Left behind the loved ones
waiting silent in the hall
Where you’re going lies adventure
others only dream of
Red and green light this is real
and so you go to war

For the passion, for the glory
for the memories, for the money
You’re a soldier, for your country
what’s the difference, all the same

Far away from the land of our birth
We fly a flag in some foreign earth
We sailed away like our fathers before
These colours don’t run, from cold bloody war

And Avenged Sevenfold’s “Gunslinger:”

Yeah, you’ve been alone
I’ve been gone for far too long
But with all that we’ve been through
After all this time I’m coming home to you

Never let it show
The pain I’ve grown to know
Cause with all these things we do
It don’t matter when I’m coming home to you

I reach towards the sky I’ve said my goodbyes
My heart’s always with you now
I won’t question why so many have died
My prayers have made it through yeah
Cause with all these things we do
It don’t matter when I’m coming home to you

Letters keep me warm
Helped me through the storm
But with all that we’ve been through
After all this time I’m coming home to you

I reach towards the sky I’ve said my goodbyes
My heart’s always with you now
I won’t question why so many have died
My prayers have made it through yeah
Cause with all these things we do
It don’t matter when I’m coming home to you

Coincidentally (or maybe not), Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released this week. The game is, in execution, a conventional first-person shooter, but the story mode is more akin to a military thriller – a wild ride of massive firefights, collateral damage, vile terrorist bad guys, and shocking death. Upon reflection, though, I realized that one of the most interesting aspects of the game is that in telling its story, it treads where modern Hollywood movies no longer dare – that is, the portrayal of soldiers of the West (Americans, British, and others) as the Good Guys and terrorists from around the world (Russia, Brazil, the Middle East) as the Bad Guys.

Hollywood has been objectively terrible in its treatment of the eight-year-old War on Terror (or whatever you’d like to call it), producing mostly a series of leftist stinkers like Syriana, or other forgettable crap that tries to paint Iraq and Afghanistan as Vietnam-painted-brown. Some storytellers, through the medium of gaming, are trying a more – dare I say – nuanced approach, like the two COD: Modern Warfare games, which in many ways captures the essence, if not the reality, of the GWOT.

COD:MW is hardly jingoistic; there is no flag-waving opening sequence, no patriotic death scenes, no high-minded concepts of Freedom and Justice and The American Way. The men in the game (and they’re all men – I don’t think there’s a single female character) are hard, simple, and deadly, and motivated by – appropriately enough given the title – their sense of duty. They understand (and the player is made to understand) that their work, while brutal and even barbaric at times, is a necessary evil, given the alternative. Neither is war glorified in the game; while the action is exciting, it also makes clear the cost of battle, as even main characters are killed and wounded, along with fellow soldiers and innocent civilians.

The game’s story is not necessarily innovative – terrorists do bad stuff, Westerners try to stop them, terrorists get pissed and exact revenge, etc. – but it is an extremely effective piece of fiction nonetheless, and uses all the advantages of the gaming medium to draw in the player. I hesitate to write such high-falutin’ words about a mere videogame (a wildly popular one, at that), but at the risk of taking Internet Chat Room with Guns too seriously, I think COD:MW2 is a perfectly appropriate game for this Veteran’s Day, and I hope it makes you think at least a little bit while playing it.

3 Comments

  1. “the living pay a price as well.”

    Called up some other people from my deployment today and found out that half of my guntruck crew has PTSD bad enough to warrant VA-funded psychiatry and disablity. While, I (like most) tend to discredit the majority of PTSD’ers as a group of people grabbing for attention (we had two TOCroaches that BS’d their way to disability), I would not have expected either of these two from my crew to have had the meltdowns they seem to be having.

    Does my lack of problem with my time in the desert, or lack of obvious PTSD , suggest that I am somehow damaged?

  2. P.S. Happy Vet’s Day, Delobius (and the Misses too, she’s a vet of a different type)!

  3. I guess that you are too busy cleaning officer’s toilets to write any new words for your Blog. I’m looking forward to more comments. I’ll always remember one of the first orders we had during my time in WW2. “Youse guys pick up all them butses.”

Comments are closed.

© 2021 Blog Machine City

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑