I’ve finished reading Mark Bowden’s Huế 1968 (Grove Atlantic, 2017). I’ll be blogging about the book in more detail later, but today I want to talk about one passage that brought back memories. It’s about the phrase, “There it is.”
I heard soldiers and Marines say that so often. I came to understand that it meant, “That’s the situation” or “That’s how it is.” The online Urban Dictionary defines it this way: “I cannot put into words what I mean, but this situation/scene/event/dead body/etc. contains all the truth necessary to understand precisely what I mean, if you can only see it through the right eyes.”
I felt both fatalism and courage in that sentence. The GIs I worked with were only eighteen or nineteen years old. Yet they knew firsthand how brutal combat was. They knew that they might die at any moment. But they didn’t hide or run away. Instead they accepted where they were and what they had to do.
My memory of soldiers and Marines saying “There it is” revives my admiration for them. They risked everything, including their lives, without complaint: There it is.