“No one gets left behind, you know that.”
“Do me a favor, okay? Tell my parents that I fought well today. And tell them that I... that I... that I fought hard.”
“(Somalia) was a watershed," said one State Department official, "The idea used to be that terrible countries were terrible because good, decent, innocent people were being oppressed by evil, thuggish leaders. Somalia changed that. Here you have a country where just about everybody is caught up in hatred and fighting. You stop an old lady on the street and ask her if she wants peace, and she’ll say, yes, of course, I pray for it daily. All the things you’d expect her to say. Then ask her if she would be willing for her clan to share power with another in order to have that peace, and she’ll say, 'With those murderers and thieves? I’d die first.' People in these countries - Bosnia is a more recent example - don’t want peace. They want victory. They want power. Men, women, old and young. Somalia was the experience that taught us that people in these places bear much of the responsibility for things being the way they are. The hatred and the killing continues because they want it to. Or because they don’t want peace enough to stop it." (pg 334-335)”
“Excited. In a good way. I've been training my whole life for this.”
“I'm not a ranger, I'm a pilot.”
“And yet these Americans, with their helicopters and laser-guided weapons and shock-troop Rangers were going to somehow sort it out in a few weeks? Arrest Aidid and make it all better? They were trying to take down a clan, the most ancient and efficient social organization known to man. Didn’t the Americans realize that for every leader they arrested there were dozens of brothers, cousins, sons, and nephews to take his place? Setbacks just strengthened the clan’s resolve. Even if the Habr Gidr were somehow crippled or destroyed, wouldn’t that just elevate the next most powerful clan? Or did the Americans expect Somalia to suddenly sprout full-fledged Jeffersonian democracy?”
“They had traveled the world, to Korea, Thailand, Central America ... they knew each other better than most brothers did.”
“The city was shredding them block by block. No place was safe. The air was alive with hurtling chunks of hot metal. They heard the awful slap of bullets into flesh and heard the screams and saw the insides of men's bodies spill out and watched the gray blank parlor rise in the faces of their friends, and the best of the men fought back despair. They were America's elite fighters and the were going to die here, outnumbered by this determined rabble. Their future was setting with this sun on this day and in this place.”
“John Updike once said that he was confused by the very concept of “antiwar,” which he felt, and I’m paraphrasing him here, was like being “anti-food” or “anti-sex,” since war was such an essential element of human experience.”
“Mogadishu was like the postapocalyptic world of Mel Gibson’s Mad Max movies, a world ruled by roving gangs of armed thugs. They were here to rout the worst of the warlords and restore sanity and civilization.”
“General Garrison assembled all of the men for a memorial service, and captured their feelings of sadness, fear, and resolve with the famous martial speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V: Whoever does not have the stomach for this fight, let him depart. Give him money to speed his departure since we wish not to die in that man’s company. Whoever lives past today and comes home safely will rouse himself every year on this day, show his neighbor his scars, and tell embellished stories of all their great feats of battle. These stories he will teach his son and from this day until the end of the world we shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for whoever has shed his blood with me shall be my brother. And those men afraid to go will think themselves lesser men as they hear of how we fought and died together.”
“It was the way he lived. He could walk out of that building at a moment’s notice and leave behind no personal trace.”
“Garrison wrote in his memo to Hoar. “There is no place in Mogadishu we cannot go and be successful in a fight. There are plenty of places we can go and be stupid.”
“Man, God really does love medics.”
“Victory was for those willing to fight and die. Intellectuals could theorize until they sucked their thumbs right off their hands, but in the real world, power still flowed from the barrel of a gun.”
“You could send in your bleeding-heart do-gooders, you could hold hands and pray and sing hootenanny songs and invoke the great gods CNN and BBC, but the only way to finally open the roads to the big-eyed babies was to show up with more guns. And in this real world, nobody had more or better guns than America. If the good-hearted ideals of humankind were to prevail, then they needed men who could make it happen.”
“Soldiering was about fighting. It was about killing people before they killed you. It was about having your way by force and guile in a dangerous world, taking a shit in the woods, living in dirty, difficult conditions, enduring hardships and risks that could—and sometimes did—kill you. It was ugly work. Which is not to say that certain men didn’t enjoy it, didn’t live for it. Garrison was one of those men. He embraced its cruelty. He would say, this man needs to die. Just like that. Some people needed to die.”
“He would think about this a lot later, and the best he could explain it was, his own life no longer mattered. All that did matter were his buddies, his brothers, that they not get hurt, that they not get killed. These men around him, some of whom he had only known for months, were more important to him than life itself. It was like when Telscher ran out on the road to pull Joyce back in. Carlson understood that now, and it was heroic, but it also wasn’t heroic. At a certain level he knew Telscher had made no choice, just as he was not choosing to be unafraid. It had just happened to him, like he had passed through some barrier. He had to keep fighting, because the other guys needed him.”
“It was terribly risky, maybe even hopeless. But one or two properly armed, well-trained soldiers could hold off an undisciplined mob indefinitely. Shughart and Gordon were experts at killing and staying alive. They were serious, career soldiers, trained to get hard, ugly things done. They saw opportunity where others could see only danger. Like the other operators, they prided themselves on staying cool and effective even in extreme danger. They lived and trained endlessly for moments like this. If there was a chance to succeed, these two believed they would”
“Steele gave the unapologetic impression that he could break you with his bare hands if it weren’t for his strict devotion to Jesus and army discipline.”
“Of all that I have possessed in my life, my memories are the only things remaining to me. Indeed, I believe that memories are the only real treasure any human can hope to hold always.”
“Silas?" I glanced from Ren to the mad-haired scholar. "He was your company?"
"Still jealous?" Ren winked at me.
"I was not jealous," I said.
"Really?" Ren said. "So that harpy-ish tone was your normal speaking voice?”
“Life is astonishingly short. As I look back over it, life seems so foreshortened to me that I can hardly understand, for instance, how a young man can decide to ride over to the next village without being afraid that, quite apart from accidents, even the span of a normal life that passes happily may be totally insufficient for such a ride.”
“And it's not just a matter of you hurting me. I will hurt you too, even if I don't want to, I'm not the girl you think I am. And you will remember this conversation , and wish that you'd listened to me.”
“Guy keeps the heart of a vampire he killed as a pet in his basement armory. He's plenty crazy. But that's okay. I'm a little crazy too.”
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