Sunday’s Wisdom #236: What They Died For

“Don’t fight for your king, and don’t fight for his kingdom! Don’t fight for honor, don’t fight for glory! Don’t fight for riches, because you won’t get any! This is your city, Stannis means to sack! That’s your gate he’s ramming! If he gets in, it will be your houses he burns, your gold he steals, your women he’ll rape.”
– Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones
Season 2, Episode 9, “Blackwater”

When Tyrion, son of Tywin, of House Lannister, says these words, he is speaking to a crowd of men, soldiers, in the middle of a battle. It’s a siege, to be precise, a massive invasion that is immediately threatening to overwhelm the city’s defenders.

They’ve tried beating them back, and they’ve made a good show of it, but they’re tired, hurt, outnumbered, losing, and dying. Within the scant, fleeting safety of the walls, they have a moment to breathe, and they are filled with despair. How can they win? The people they’re supposed to be following are abandoning them even then. They don’t know what to do. But Tyrion does. It takes a moment, but, as he guides them, carries them forward, they begin to get their wind back. Just before leading them into the fray, Tyrion reminds them what they fight for.

It’s not for power, that’s what powerful people fight for.

It’s not for themselves, for fame and fortune, that’s what vain fools and greedy men fight for.

It’s for what they protect that drives the common, everyday man to fight, and those are everyday things as well: his home, his few possessions, his family, his woman. Powerful, precious things to fight for, that.

In my country, this is Memorial Day weekend, where we take an extra day off from work and have a good time. Some of us (far too few) even remember what the day is for: remembering our fallen soldiers. These were men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty, fighting our nation’s wars. All sorts of people, both good and bad, from all sorts of backgrounds, have been fighting for our country since at least 1775, even before we were an actual country of our own. Many have suffered in a multitude of ways, and many have died, in every way that it’s possible to die in war.

It is good to remember their sacrifice, and it is vital to remember what they fought and died for: home, family, freedom.

May our fallen soldiers rest in peace, and may they never have died in vain.

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