The Warrior Archetype
“The Warrior's loyalties...are to something beyond and other than himself and his own concerns.”
The year is 1952, and I am six years old. Mother, Jerrie and I stand stiffly on the concrete viewing stand behind a metal barrier, watching the water rapidly rise in the lock at the Chickamauga dam. We can see the gray, steel ship chugging up the river toward us, big guns bristling, and United States Navy painted boldly on the prow. The ship slowly slides into the lock with a line of Seamen in dress uniform standing at attention on deck. My dad is among them. When the ship gets even with us, he is no more than a dozen feet away, and I see him smile and wink. I feel both fear and pride. How handsome he looks. How proud to wear that uniform. But, he will be gone for a month to an island called Cuba, and since I know nothing of the world, let alone islands, it seems as distant as a planet.
In his day job, my father was a surveyor and draftsman for the Tennessee Valley Authority, a job he took after World War II. I learned much later that one of the things he did there was not for the utility company, but for the United States Government. He drew topographical maps of Southeast Asia—Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma—from aerial surveillance photographs. At the time, we were at war in Korea. A decade later, we were gearing up for my generation's war in Vietnam.
At their best, our veterans embody the Warrior archetype, which is a spiritual and psychological path. Here are some of the characteristics of the positive side of the Warrior: They are aggressive in the sense that they make an all out effort to succeed. They are competitive and vigorously energetic. They put forth determination, initiative, and force in the form of harnessed aggression. They need a clear and definite purpose in life otherwise they feel lost, restless. They are ever mindful, alert, vigilant, and have keen situational awareness because they observe, study and plan. They are well aware that life is finite, and do not fear death; in fact, that understanding brings them clarity. They are competent, adaptable, creative in finding solutions, resourceful and decisive. They remain calm under pressure, emotionally disciplined, skillful, accurate and loyal. The true Warrior only destroys in order to make room for something new.
The Warrior archetype is not the sole province of military men. In fact, it is found every single day in ordinary people—men and women, who simply put on their pants and go out to face the world with strength and courage. You don't have to be in the military to be a warrior, but people who choose to be in the military learn how to be warriors for the right reasons—to serve and defend. Today, I honor our veterans, and remember my own father's strength and courage. I hope you do, too.
In the Spirit,