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"
"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."
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...
Russell: THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, SIR! WHAT ARE YOU?! THE QUICK! WHAT'RE THEY?! THE DEAD!!
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?
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.
— Paul Bäumer, All Quiet on the Western Front
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
Doctor: Your son appears to suffering from PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Stan: But doctor, that's impossible. He was only in a reenactment.
Doctor: Oh, then it must be PTWRSD, Post-Traumatic War Reenactment Stress Disorder.
Stan: Is that a thing?
Doctor: I've never heard of it.
—American Dad!, "In Country...Club"
John Rambo: Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don't turn it off! It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you! And I did what I had to do to win, but somebody wouldn't let us win! And I come back to the world, and I see all those maggots at the airport, protesting me, spitting; throwing stuff and calling me a baby killer and all kinds of vile crap. Who are they to protest me for, huh?! Who are they?! Unless they've been me and been there, and know what the hell they're yelling about?!
Col. Trautman: It was a bad time for all us, Johnny. It's all in the past now!
John Rambo: For you! For me, civilian life is nothing! In the field we have a code of honor: you watch my back, I watch yours. Back here is nothing!
Col. Trautman: You're the last of an elite group. Don't end it like this.
John Rambo: Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank. I was in charge of million dollars of equipment. Back here I couldn't get a job parking cars!
— 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.
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).
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
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