Be strong, saith my heart; I am a soldier I have seen worse sights than this.

The Iliad

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In one way or another I’ve said this quote to myself thousands of times throughout the years. I think every soldier has a similar quote they repeat to themselves.

The military is tough, there’s no question about it. From basic training, to war, and then coming home. But the best thing it is that when struggles do arrive, as soldiers, we know deep down that we’ve been there before, and have survived. We’ve struggled, we’ve gone days without sleep, days without food, left our families behind, endured physical and mental trials, and we survived it all.

For me, one time I always repeat the Iliad quote is when I’m sick.

If I get a bad head cold, I’m one of the biggest babies ever. All I want to do is curl up in bed, watch reruns of The Price is Right, drink honey tea, and just wait out the cold with a blanket over my head. This though, as an adult, is not an option. After allowing myself to wallow in pity for a few minutes, I repeat some form of the above quote, and then remind myself of a story.

Way back in 2005 I was a young soldier; I was living in barracks at the time–during my AIT training–and a few of us came down with the flu. It was awful, we were puking, dehydrated, and had that disgusting lethargic feeling. And the worst  part: there was nothing we could do about it. We still had PT every morning at 4:00am, and then had 8-12 hours of schooling, etc. Sick call didn’t open until 6:00am and we couldn’t miss any classes because our training was incredibly difficult (we had two tests a week and if you scored anything under a 79 you were on academic probation (under 75 was failing)). One morning after a hard run during PT, two of us blacked out from dehydration. Once we came to, we didn’t go to sick call, we just drank a bottle of water and went back to our training. By the time the weekend rolled around, and we were finally able to go to sick call, two of us had 103 temps and one had a 104 temp.

It was the sickest I had ever been in my life (a week later strept throat was going through the barracks and a bunch of us got that too!). But I toughed it out. And now, whenever I get sick and just want to curl up in bed, I remind myself how sick I was then, and how much I still was able to accomplish when at my worst.

We’ve all had tough times and life and have survived them. If you’re going through a tough time, just remind yourself “I’ve been here before, I’ve survived, and I will again.”

 

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About The Author
Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony is a Massachusetts based writer and veteran of the U.S. Army. After his service in the Iraq War, he earned a BA in English Literature from Bridgewater State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. He currently spends his free time with his wife and daughter, and volunteering for veteran charities.

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