Volunteering in the War
Of the many reasons people had for joining the army an underlying opinion was that the war would provide an adventure for young men that had not experienced any such thing prior to that and many many years later it took the disillusion of war to change that feeling. Unlike wars that took place at the time of early civilizations, most American wars were mostly fought for freedom of people as opposed to spoils of war. They mostly only asked that should they die in battle they be allocated a plot of land for burial. Why then do men and women volunteer for war and how do their beliefs help them in such times?
The reasons that have been given behind the decision to volunteer and fight in a potentially dangerous war have been varied and at the same time eerily similar. There were nationalistic explanations as these men and women wanted to preserve their country for the loved ones they were leaving behind and the ones that would come after. Many of them who were also religious saw it as their religious obligation to preserve their land, and respect those who had gone before by securing their government and protecting their way of life. Another compelling reason that saw men volunteer for war was the opportunity at the chance of an adventure. Young men that had lived in their little towns or even cities were given the opportunity to see the world and the power that wielding ammunition would give them. Many young men could not pass that up. While many of them would get to the war and see how ugly war was in reality and eventually change their ideology, they went for the thrill and adventure. They were swept up in its supposed glory and image and they could not resist.
However the wars have not really been the glamorous picture that had been painted as the men who were now soldiers saw death and pain and anguish. What is more is that most men found out that the picture painted by America was different from the real reason they were fighting the war and this made them disillusioned. They now needed something stronger than nationalistic pride to keep them fighting and remaining in harm’s way – most of them saw religion as that escape. They used their faith and belief to propel them forward in the mire of the death and suffering they saw. They used their faith to find reasons to keep on protecting their land even when they no longer agreed with the reason behind the war. This was very true with earlier wars in American history and letters and literature from and about these soldiers proved just that. We have evidence of letters like that written by Andrew Brooks to his sister where he states that based off President Lincoln’s intention, the South had to fight and many other similar letters that shine a light on people’s different reasons and obligations with regards volunteering. So there were men fighting for the preservation of their countries, their government and freedom and way of life (Christin Shullo, 2008).
While it is easy to state that men volunteered to fight in the war, it must be noted that women also volunteered in times of war. While they may not have been on the war front, they were volunteering in ways that made it possible for the men to keep fighting and for the country to keep running. Women generally volunteered in filling social and civic responsibilities. While the men were fighting to preserve their way of life, the women were volunteering out of a sense of duty to their communities and countries. They used their skills that they had acquired in times of peace to ensure that the economy and home life did not suffer because the men were no longer there. As their contributions began to grow the government began to regulate their efforts. This was the women claiming to earn their citizenship as their men were laying their lives on the line. They provided medical supplies and provided comfort for the soldiers, while still keeping the homes as stable as they could.
Traits of the Men and Women of the Armed Forces
While people may have had various reasons for going to battle, it cannot be denied that the war changed the men and women that participated in it. Their outlook on life was different and they saw a level of suffering and pain that is uncommon to the average man. Most importantly though, they had to learn to how to survive on less than the barest minimum and build up traits necessary for hostile environment. It is therefore no secret that people can imbibe the character and leadership traits of our armed forces in order to become better individuals. What therefore are some of the traits we could emulate from the armed forces?
One of the strongest traits that are visible in the armed forces is dependability. The way wars were fought ensured that the soldiers could depend on one another to have their back. This gave them the confidence to be on the war front knowing that the man behind him was also watching for him. This is a trait that could be useful to us as individuals – as dependability means that you can be counted on whether in school, at home or generally for any facet of your life. The soldier also had to demonstrate a strong bearing with regards his appearance, his posture and the way he behaved in his personal life. While this appearance and attitude worked better in your academic or work life, it could also be applied in our personal lives. It is necessary for children to be children but imbibing such traits could be helpful along the way in becoming better adapted citizens and leaders.
Whatever the traits we can pick up from the armed forces, whether it may be courage or endurance or integrity or maybe it is the ability to be counted on to make good judgments, there are many good things we could pick up from the armed forces to apply to our everyday lives. Today we live in a country that we are proud of and consider safe because men and women have always stood up to do what they believed to be right. It did not matter then or now if these choices they were about to make would put their lives at risk or even lead to their death. They believed the repercussions to be worth it in the end if it meant that they could preserve this country for their loved ones and the ones that would come after them. And when they had nothing else to hold on to, they looked to their faith to guide them in their decision to defend their country. They will forever be our heroes.
Lowther, Adam. “Understanding the American Military: Demographics, Personality Traits, Leadership Psychology and Worldview.” n.d.
Retrieved from http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/apjinternational/apj-s/2010/2010-2/2010_02_08_lowther_eng.pdf
Pohanka, Brian. “Fort Wagner and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.”
18th Jul, 1863. Retrieved from http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/batterywagner/battery-wagner-history-articles/fortwagnerpohanka.html
Shullo, Christin. “Soldiers of the American Civil War: Why did they fight?” 14th Apr, 2008.
Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/soldiers-american-civil-war-why-did-they-fight-1376889.html