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This edition: What It's Like to Go to War

Episode Details

Original tape date: August 6, 2012.

First aired: August 6, 2012.

America has been at war for over a decade now, with millions of soldiers having seen death and dying up close in Afghanistan and Iraq. But most Americans, watching comfortably on their TVs and computers, witness mostly to statistics, stump speeches, and “expert” rhetoric, don’t get what’s really going on there. This week on Moyers & Company (check local listings), Bill talks to Karl Marlantes – a highly-decorated Vietnam veteran, Rhodes Scholar, author, and PTSD survivor – about what we on the insulated outside need to understand about the minds and hearts of our modern warriors. Marlantes shares with Bill intimate stories about how his battlefield experiences both shaped him and nearly destroyed him, even after returning to civilian life.

"’Thou shalt not kill’ is a tenet you just do not violate, and so all your young life, that's drilled into your head,” Marlantes tells Bill. “And then suddenly, you're 18 or 19 and they're saying, ‘Go get 'em and kill for your country.’ And then you come back and it's like, ‘Well, thou shalt not kill’ again. Believe me, that’s a difficult thing to deal with.”

“You take a young man and put him in the role of God, where he is asked to take a life -- that's something no 19-year-old is able to handle.”

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