Saturday, March 18, 2000

They all are heroes too
By Kuljit Bains

WHEN there is war there is blood , sacrifice, courage, fear, pain, loss — essentially, all forms of extreme conditions. Thrown into these conditions are soldiers. Men who have decided to make it their job to stand in line for the defence of their country. From among these men rise a few who make the rest of the countrymen proud of themselves and their nation. They come back from their test dead or wounded, victorious nevertheless. The country loves them and decorates them with the highest honours that there are, and rightly so. These men are heroes..

Illustration by Rajiv KaulThe great thing is that we have these heroes, but what is greater still is that we have a whole lot more of them. The sad part is we never called this large number of men heroes, and have simply referred to them as soldiers.

The day a boy joins the army, for valour or money, he knows he is giving up his freedom, even what we call our fundamental rights. Also, at the back of his heart, he knows he may be called upon to make the sacrifice, however deep he may bury the thought.

  Each day of a soldier is a heroic act, for he is there, there to take on the challenge. What needs guts is to stand in the line. Whether war or peace, this man has put himself on offer to his people.

In war, there would be soldiers who would die when a truck falls down the side of a hill, those who would fall victim to cold, or even those who might come in the way of a stray bullet from a fellow soldier’s rifle. There would also be those who would not get killed, or even fire a single bullet, but just drive a truck.

These men are as much heroes as any one else, for no war could be won, or even fought, without these men who, in their youth, took the decision to be there.

Then, there are still more heroes the families. Mothers and fathers, wives and children who let their loved ones go with just the hope that they would see them once again. And most of them are lucky, they do get their men back. But these families had done their heroic deed when they simply let the men go in the first place, leaving behind hope as the only assurance.

For some, this hope fails. They are left behind with just memories of a simple man who looked after his family, loved them, and, when the time came, kept his word to the country. These non-soldier heroes deserve just as much respect as any valiant soldier, the only difference being they were not trained to handle guns.

The girl who marries a soldier is the same as the unsure boy who takes the plunge and joins the army. She is doing the nation just as much service, for she has given a commitment too.

To say the least, if to be a hero is to have courage and conviction, then all these people are heroes too.