Okay, firstly, although I've known the poem Dulce et Decorum est for quite a while, I didn't connect it with M*A*S*H until I read a fanfiction story here (or rather, read the title and description of the story).
Also, this is not so much an attempt at characterization as a way to blow off some personal steam.
Enjoy! (although that word seems very unfitting here)
He thought of Wilfred Owen's poem, which had never seemed more true than now. The bitterness reflected in the poem closely resembled his own feelings at this point.
Does it never end? He sighed, looking down upon the young kid he'd operated on a day ago. It had been an ordinary procedure, and just that thought struck a nerve in him.
Nothing should be ordinary about a war.
They'd seen dozens of cases like this: shrapnel in the belly. It was a dangerous condition, surely, but one that was relatively easy to fix.
The body would heal soon enough – he'd always be amazed at just how strong the body could be if it had to be.
The mind… the mind was another matter altogether.
He remembered another time, another war on another continent. He'd been scarcely older than this kid, having lied about his age to get into the war. Looking back, he wished he could've stopped himself. He could've saved himself a lot of pain – a lot of reward too, he thought as he remembered his old friends. Then he thought of the recent death of the final person of their circle – excluding himself – and his face fell.
Yet another casualty of war.
How many men had died now because of two high horses who couldn't discuss their discontentment like normal men? How many men had to suffer for one man's ideal?
He couldn't remember being so cynical ever before – maybe it was true, he was getting too old for this job. Three wars was too many to take. Hell, most men didn't even survive one.
Still, here he was… His third war, his third foreign country, the third time he had to follow orders… although in a different capacity. In a way, he was better off this time – after all, he wasn't on the front line, and he had some fine company here.
But everything seemed so much more profound to him now.
Back in the trenches, they'd have one minute of silence for a fallen soldier before fighting on. It wasn't that there hadn't been more time; he still remembered hour after endless hour of boredom – it was more that they were all young, and death didn't touch them.
These days, it seemed death was having a torrid love affair with him.
These young kids, boys he didn't even know, touched something in him that had long since been buried, and for one of the first times in his life, Sherman T. Potter found himself wondering about his sanity and questioning those of the people above him.
It had been a gradual realization as he'd been working in this M.A.S.H. unit. The blind faith he'd had in his country's leaders was gone. He couldn't just see anonymous people in the enemy, either. They had faces, sometimes even names, and he simply couldn't treat them as one anymore.
If he was at the front right now, he'd make a lousy soldier.
And it hurt him all the more that the boys he was patching up were heading for the same terrible realization, the ability to see through the lie of all lies:
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
If you don't know the poem: it's Dulce et Decorum est by Wilfred Owen. I recommend it to you - it's very powerful, and the fact that it was written almost a hundred years ago strengthens the message, in my opinion. Shouldn't we have learnt by now?
Please review; you don't know how happy it'd make me!