Shakespeare created a speech for Henry V, in his play of the same name, that expresses so many of the layers of a combat veteran’s experience. First, it is a rousing pep talk to his outnumbered troops just before they go into a battle that would go down in the history of England as one of its greatest hours.
It is also a testament to the suffering and sacrifice that combat veterans are all too familiar with by their mutual experiences on those terrible fields of battle.
This speech understands the reality that it is always “the few” who undertake the weight and responsibility necessary to defend those we love and the country of our birth.
Shakespeare also understood that those who have shared the horrors of war, who were lucky enough to come home to marry, to raise children, and to grow old, will always be brothers of a kind that can be matched no where else.
This is one of the greatest speeches in all of literature.
To those who have not been there, listen well, and you may come to understand at some level what we combat veterans carry with us for the rest of our lives. For those who have been there, listen well, and remember your brothers and sisters, those who gave their all, and those, like yourself, who came home to carry the memories in the depths of their souls for the rest of their lives.