Authors: Gary Paulsen
They walked in line across the meadow, through their own dead from the day before. Charley tried not to look down at them but couldn't help it and found that they all looked alike. He could not identify men he'd known for months. They were all bloated, pushing out against their uniforms; clouds of flies were planting eggs in the wound openings and eyes and mouths of the bodies. The smell was sweet, cloying, the smell of blood and dirt and decaying fleshâthe smell of death. They had uniforms on, red flannel shirts, so he knew they were all Minnesota men, but the dead all looked alike.
Broken. Like broken toys or dolls.
The Boy Who Owned the School
Call Me Francis Tucket
with Ruth Wright Paulsen
Father Water, Mother Woods:
Essays on Fishing and Hunting in the North Woods
Harris and Me
My Life in Dog Years
The Night the White Deer Died
Popcorn Days and Buttermilk Nights
Sarny: A Life Remembered
The Schernoff Discoveries
The Transall Saga
The Voyage of the
The Winter Room
an imprint of Random House Children's Books
a division of Random House, Inc.
New York, New York 10036
Copyright Â© 1998 by Gary Paulsen
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friend, sailor and
one who understandsÂ â¦
ar is always, in all ways, appalling. Lives are stopped in youth, worlds are ended, and even for those who surviveâand the vast majority of soldiers who go to war
surviveâthe mental damage done is often permanent. What they have seen and been forced to do is frequently so horrific and devastating that it simply cannot be tolerated by the human psyche.
Now there is an attempt to understand this form of injury and deal with it. It is called post-traumatic
stress disorder by those who try to cure it. They give it a technical name in the attempt to make something almost incomprehensible understandable, in the hope that, by doing this, they will make it curable.
But in other times and other wars, they used more descriptive terms.
In the Second World War the mental damage was called battle fatigue, and there were rudimentary efforts to help the victims. These usually involved bed rest and the use of sedatives or other drugs.
In the First World War it was called shell shock, based on the damage done by the overwhelming use, for the first time in modern war, of artillery fire against soldiers in stationary positions (trenches). The concussion of exploding incoming rounds, thousands upon thousands of them, often left men deaf and dazed, many of them with a symptom called the thousand-yard stare. The afflicted were essentially
not helped at all and simply sent home for their families to care for. Most were irrational; many were in a vegetative state.
In the Civil War the syndrome was generally not recognized at all. While the same horrors existed as those in modern war, in some ways they were even worse because the technological aspect of war being born then, the wholesale killing by men using raw firepower, was so new and misunderstood. The same young men were fed into the madness. But in those days there was no scientific knowledge of mental disorders and no effort was made to help the men who were damaged. Some men came through combat unscathed. Most did not. These men were somehow different from other men.
They were said to have soldier's heart.