Quotes / Shell-Shocked Veteran

And so I sit here at this bar
I'm not a hero, I'm not a movie star
I've got my beer, I've got my stories to tell
But they won't tell you what it's like in hell
Red flowers bursting down below us
Those people didn't even know us
We didn't know if we would live or die,
We didn't know if it was wrong or right
We didn't know if we would live or die,
I bombed Korea every night
CAKE, "I Bombed Korea"

I realize: I am not answerable for
The fate of those who perished in the war,
For every younger pal or senior vet
Left yonder; nor is anybody saying
That I could save them, but fell short of saving,
No one says that, and yet, and yet, and yet…
A. Twardowski, "And yet…"

from passing by the roses strewn
at the feet of the fallen and feeling
the names of the dead on the cold, wet
stone, there became a certain
satisfaction in breathing

and even more in realizing we still could.
— "Vietnam", a poem by sound-dispute

"These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished.
Memory fingers in their hair of murders,
Multitudinous murders they once witnessed.
Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander,
Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.
Always they must see these things and hear them,
Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles,
Carnage incomparable and human squander
Rucked too thick for these men's extrication."
Wilfred Owen, "Mental Cases"

"Do they matter—those dreams in the pit?
You can drink and forget and be glad,
And people won't say that you’re mad;
For they know that you've fought for your country,
And no one will worry a bit."

NOTHING is "over". Nothing. You just don't 'turn it off.' It wasn't my war. You asked me, I didn't ask you.
John Rambo to Col. Trautman, First Blood

Rufus: Folks like us, there ain't no happy ending. We all got it coming.
Dean: Well ain't you a bucket of sunshine.
Rufus: I'm what you've got to look forward to if you survive.

"Someday this war's gonna end". That'd be just fine with the boys on the boat. They weren't looking for anything more than a way home. Trouble is, I'd been back there, and I knew that it just didn't exist anymore.
Willard, Apocalypse Now

Corp. John Russell: This medal? I got it when I lost my five best friends in a firefight. AK-47 rounds. I don't know why I survived.
Det. Danny Reagan: Maybe you survived 'cause you were meant to get back to your family.
Russell: No. No, it's 'cause I was quick. You know that drill? (at attention) WHAT ARE THE TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD, SOLDIER?!
Danny: John, you've got to leave that behind, man...
Danny: John, look at me. John. It's time to come home, man.
Russell: I don't want to be quick anymore. (leaps to his death)
Blue Bloods, "Unfinished Business"

The war gave them definition, direction, purpose. Without it, they don't know how to fit in anymore. So they keep looking for ways to go out in a blaze of glory. Some people call that being a hero. Maybe so. I don't know. I've never been one. Me? I think they're looking for something worth dying for because it's easier than finding something worth living for.
Garibaldi, Babylon 5 — "Infection"

Once you've been to Serenity, you never leave. You just learn to live there.
Zoe Washburne, Firefly

There's no place I can be/Since I found Serenity...

The winter after the curse was lifted, hundreds of veteran orcs like me were lost to despair. Our minds were finally free, yes... Free to relive all of the unthinkable acts that we had performed under the Legion's influence. I think it was the sounds of the draenei children that unnerved most of them... You never forget... Have you ever been to Jaggedswine Farm? When the swine are of age for the slaughter... It's that sound. The sound of the swine being killed... It resonates the loudest. Those are hard times for us older veterans.
Varok Saurfang, World of Warcraft

The Chief: Is it possible that you were living out a war flashback, Sarge?
Sarge: Aye.
The Chief: Let's go ahead and say that's what happened.
Sarge: It would explain a lot.

We are not youth any longer. We don't want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.

When does it stop—the ringing in your ears?
Annie Walker, Covert Affairs

The people I killed...they're not comin' back, Leo. What's left for ME!?
Maximilian, Anarchy Reigns

Soldier: You know, Captain, we drove through this whole city to find you. We... we saw things. If you don't mind me asking, what was it like? How did you survive all this?
Walker: ...Who said I did?

I'm sorry about your friend Mark. But I think that most of him died somewhere in Kandahar.

I wasn't battle-happy, or mentally scarred, or hung up with guilt, nor did patrols of miniature Japanese brew up under my bed (as happened to one of my section whenever we came out of the line; we used to tell him to take his kukri to them, and when he had done so to his satisfaction, swearing and carving the air, we all went back to sleep again, him included).

Contessa: Just about everyone comes to this crossroad. Some get seventy years, some only get fifteen. Enough time to grow, to take stock of who you are. Enough time to do things you’ll regret when you run out of time.

Taylor: It’s about regret, and coming to terms with it all.
Annette: You’re only eighteen. Why are you worrying about something like that at this stage?
Taylor: Because I’m done. My life is over, for all intents and purposes. No matter how hard I try from here on out, I’ll never do anything one ten–thousandth as important as what I was doing before.

It’s so much worse than you think, Rose. The things that happen over there, the state of things in the trenches, and having to guard my unit at all hours? I changed, I got fit, I changed the way I think, how I sleep and eat, so I can be on guard, always watching for tricks. For rats that are a little too smart, or phantoms that would whisper panic into men’s ears while they sleep? For ghouls that… well, they pretend to be soldiers that die like anyone might, but when you let your guard down and search the body, they bite you and get a hungry kind of death into the wound?
Aimon Behaim, Pact

You know, it strikes me as the most extraordinary irony that you managed to come through the war with flying colours but seem to find the peace so utterly defeating.
Joanna Burton describing her brother Jerry, Marple: The Moving Finger

It's not that I don't want to remember. I have to remember… for those who can't.

Their fires lit up the night. All across Lake Rumare, like stars come to earth. It was beautiful, really.
I had a medal. It had someone's face on it. I threw it away, after. It didn't help.
I finally understand what it all means. What its all for. The killing. And the dying.

"There was a time I could see. And I have seen... boys like these - younger even - their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that."
Colonel Slade, Scent of a Woman

"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart, you begin to understand... there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend... some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold."
Frodo Baggins, The Return of the King