No one is left behind! When in combat, the compact demands that we mutually promise to bring back each of our own comrades to safety at battle’s end. It raises the conception that every fellow warrior is worthy of our commitment to their rescue if captured or to our compassion if wounded. Likewise, we can rest in the security of their care should we fall victim. The promise bonds the parties, one to the other, and cements esprit de corps.
It is a concept with which we all have familiarity but is one difficult to determine its origin. Some attribute it to pre-independence American soldiers fighting in the French and Indian War, Roger’s Rangers. Others imagine an earlier ethos behind the idea. Regardless of etymology, the notion persists because it is honorable and well-conceived.
As we march into the foibles of life, we can feel abandoned by those pledged to stand with us. And too often, we can fail to live to our own promise. Mundane interests, timing, fear, or even ordinary distraction can draw us away from those we are sworn to defend. Are we living to our commitments to our faith? To our families? To our work? To our classmates? Have we left behind those who would be there for us? Have we been left behind?
When voices cry out for attention, they are difficult to ignore. But those voices fade quickly from distance, fatigue or other distraction. Soon, we can forget they are there, still hoping for remembrance and longing for our devotion. Other matters arise as we justify our failure to meet our sworn obligations. Can we ever fully hope to absolve ourselves of a duty to those we have called comrades? If so, when is the mission complete and the contract fulfilled?