When all is said and done, stories of war, the despair, the hope, the triumph, the tragedy, the doom, and how it changes what humanity thinks of life, love, death, and the deep facets of the heart, is immensely fascinating, profound, and true. It forces mankind to ask the important questions about cause, justice, courage, and the meaning of life. Both men in both essays have.
While they related plain, surprising truths of their own contentions and personal identification with the wars, they both related their quests on the deep truths unearthed by the gruesome affair. In deep wonder, one (Mockenhaupt) questioned the astonishing satiety of being on the edge in contrast with peace time's monotony. The other (O’Brien) expressed a curious stand-offish attitude despite his firm opinions and lack of options in a dark fate. Both had serious questions about how to live, seen through the lenses of the desperation of war.
That is where the similarity ends. The experiences related in each essay are in stark contrast, their themes located at opposite sides of the spectrum. One relates to war from its cutting edge, the center stage, from the heat of the battle. It was from the experience of the person in action, who performs the most grueling tasks in the war. In the heat of the moment he neither cared for the cause or the justice the war stood for. He was there to do the job. And from his reaction from the aftermath, he seemed to have the best out of the experience. On the other hand, the other essay is related from a macro perspective all throughout, the details of his experience brief. He talked of injustice and the “wrong-ness” of the war, and he had barely anything interesting to say after. He was a foot soldier, running errands, barely in action. He resounds a curious strain of apathy, right from way before the war up until when the war was over. He did not like the war and what it stood for, and was not very a very enthusiastic draftee. In fact, he related it as if he did not have a choice. He concluded that even though he was there, he is not qualified to teach any lesson regarding the entire affair.
The contrasts in the essays offer extreme perspectives of personal war experiences. Even if one is base in thinking and has what people in general would think as a dark longing for the war, while the other, apathetic despite his firm opinions about the war, the one that displayed more passion seem to draw more admiration. One may have his firm opinions, but it barely supported any cause. Then other may have only thought of the moment, yet survive he did, and probably was able to save his comrade’s lives as well. He was able to show more empathy to his comrades, and probably had offered a lot more in showing the real effect of war to one person, and to the people around him.
Mockenhaupt, Brian. "I Miss Iraq. I Miss My Gun. I Miss My War." Esquire Magazine. The Hearst Corporation. March 2007. Print.
O'Brien, Tim. "Pro Patria." If I Die in a Combat Zone. 1975. Print.