What Courage?


What is courage,

when there is no choice?

When the consequence

of inaction

is the loss of everything

and everyone

you’ve ever loved?


Is there a place for fear?

When the ramp drops

on some foreign shore

and bullets snap by your head,

and the very sea at your feet

 tries to claim you?


When your friends fall

and you keep moving,

not knowing

if the next second

will be the one you die in?


When you reach the beach

and run to find

some small swell

in the Earth

to cover you?


Is it courage,

when you

and twenty of your mates

rise amongst the hail

of certain death

to charge the lines

of entrenched enemies

and finally begin

to shoot back.


Is it courage,

to keep going?

Is it courage,

to not stop?

Is it courage

to not be able

to give up

the lives

of those you love

to the darkness?


Is it courage,

or are you

the embodiment

of some strange

will of the universe?

The Divine Hand?

The future writ large?


Does it matter?

For those who die

on that foreign beach,

for those who survive

to fight on,

or for those

who come,

decades later

to wonder

at what courage

these men had?



HG – 2021



Author’s Note:  This piece was adopted from a series of replies which I wrote to a tweet by Jocko Willink (@jockowillink) on his Twitter account on Sunday, June 6th, 2021, the 77th anniversary of D-Day.

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