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The toughest job in war…

 

   He just sits there, leaning against a tree that has seen its share of war. At the moment, there is a pause in the shelling by the enemy.  Nonetheless, the energy in the air weighs heavily as if something is about let loose.

   He just sits there waiting and thinking, how did he get here?  Sure, he enlisted like many of the boys he knew back home.  While they went off to join the infantry, he was sent to become a medic.  Two years of training, then shipped off to the other side of the world.

   Healing the sick is in his bloodline.  Back home in Louisiana, his grandmother was what they called a ‘traiteur.’ She would heal with just her hands while calling to God to take away the pain.  Now, it was his turn to heal and he had done his best to do so, in the midst of battle.

   Upon his helmet and on the sleeve of his jacket it bears the international insignia of the Red Cross.  He thought that carrying a rifle and shooting the enemy would be hard to do.  However the cross upon his helmet is a far more burden to bear.

   It doesn’t make any sense to him.  The Company that he is with is there to take lives, while he is here to save lives.  He prays that, like his Grandmother, he too can save the lives of the men he walks along side.

   The silence of the night is broken with an all too familiar scream…

   “In coming! Take cover!”

   Shells and mortars explode above and around them all the while sending fragments of debris across the area.  The sound is deafening as it sends waves of fear through his body.  There is nothing one can do, but take cover in a foxhole all the while praying that you don’t get hit.

   In a brief break, he hears his beckoned call…

   “Medic!”

   His fear breaks as he snaps out of his thoughts and runs amongst the barrage of falling shells to the soldier who has been hit.  A soldier is down, with a bomb fragment that has pierced through his jacket and landed in the man’s chest.  He pauses over the body of the soldier for a brief moment to allow his training to take over.  Shouts from fellow soldiers mix with the cries of the fallen man, echo amongst the sounds of bombs going off.  He works vigorously to stop the bleeding and bandage the wound.  To no avail, the fallen soldier dies in the arms of his buddies.

   “Dimmit!” he yells while gazing at the body of the fallen soldier.

   He cannot remember how many lives he has tried to save. Nonetheless, each face of the fallen is forever etched in his memory… it’s his cross to bear and it weighs heavy upon his heart.

   If you look at all the jobs of those serving in the military, one has to consider the job of a Medic to be the toughest and worst job of them all.  It takes a special kind of person to march into battle with no weapon, but with the knowledge that will hopefully save those affected by such weapons.

   One cannot imagine the scenes that medics witness.  More so, how do medics forget the carnages of war?

   In 2014, Bluegrass group Nu-Blu honors the heroism of Military Medics in their song “Heavy Cross To Bear.”

Heavy Cross To Bear

(Cameron Earnshaw / Dillon Dixon)

 

Steven was a medic, serving in Afghanistan

Red Cross painted on his helmet, dodging bullets in the sand

He’d risk his life to rescue soldiers, dying in the dust

It was only painted metal, but to him that helmet was

 

A heavy cross to bear

For the true and the brave

With courage light and prayer

Someone will be saved

Though it’s humble and it’s plain 

It’s beyond compare

The symbol yet remains

A heavy cross to bear

 

There’s a one-room country chapel in the woods of Alabam

And it’s been goodbye to heroes from Japan to Vietnam

Sat a cross upon the steeple forged with hope, faith and steel

As long as liberty is threatened, that church will always feel

 

A heavy cross to bear

For the true and the brave

With courage light and prayer

Someone will be saved

Though it’s humble and it’s plain 

It’s beyond compare

The symbol yet remains

A heavy cross to bear

 

 There’s a hill beside a farmhouse with a footpath on the side

And a cross among some crabgrass,

made of pine and painted white

There’s a widow in the moonlight and a teardrop epitaph

A dozen roses and some dog tags and that hill will always have

 

A heavy cross to bear

For the true and the brave

With courage light and prayer

Someone will be saved

Though it’s humble and it’s plain 

It’s beyond compare

The symbol yet remains

A heavy cross to bear

 

   “We really don’t do this on purpose.  But, we are just kinda drawn to these songs that… you know as you go through that song, it talks about a guy.  Here’s a guy fightin’ on the beach in the sands.” shares Daniel Routh of Nu-Blu.  “Then it goes back to a church, back home where everybody’s gatherin’ and prayin;’ when the soldiers are killed and come back, you know their funerals are there in the church and then to the burial of the lady’s husband up there on the hill.  You know it goes full circle, with the whole… kind of bringin’ it back home, if you will.”

   This heartfelt ballad is part of Nu-Blu’s 2014 album All The Way.

   “The gentleman that was in the band with us, at the time that we recorded this song, his brother was actually a medic with a SEAL team. We knew his brother before he went.  He did two tours in Afghanistan, a tour in Israel; then got reassigned to a bomb disposal unit and to go do another tour. ” shares Daniel.  “We saw a great guy when he went, a great guy when he came back; but there’s a difference in him.  Before he’d leave he’d say ‘See ya later.’ After he did a couple of tours it was a hug and ‘I love you, man.’ that kind of thing.”

   It doesn’t matter which war you look at, from the past wars to our current conflicts, you will always find a medic in the midst of all the carnage.  Their only job is to save lives.

What a heavy cross to bear...

(This article was printed in the May / June 2018 issue of Strictly Country Magazine.)

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