Best Defense

The Soldiers of the Soul and the Musters of the Mind

We each hold musters of the mind and hidden roll calls of our soul.



By Col. Keith Nightingale, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Best Defense guest columnist

We each hold musters of the mind and hidden roll calls of our soul.

The faces come and go with every night patrol.

The patrol of dreams both dark and light from times so long ago.

The legions of our memories and the bonds of all our times.

We see who we were when now we are.

We march and sing and share what only we could have together.

The time is lost but the moment and the faces linger.

A flashing image of once exuberant youth now together for an aging lifetime.

These are life’s reflections and the spirits of our soul.

Ulysses’ Odyssey and the reunion of the dead, regather to recount life when greatly stressed and actions treasured.

We yearn for youth recaptured and deeds once done together.

It is the endless nighttime journey of those that shared what others did not.

The ghosts of past events march into our present and succor the soul of those who destiny ordained to live and age.

The spirits fuel the mind and steel the spirits of those moments.

Memories of youth and purpose beyond mortality.

The soldiers of the soul and the musters of the mind.

Col. (Ret.) Keith Nightingale commanded four infantry companies, three battalions, and two brigades. These units included two tours in Vietnam, the Grenada invasion, and several classified counterterrorist operations including the Iran rescue attempt. He was a founding member of the 1-75th Rangers as well as one of the original members of what is now Joint Special Operations Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. Col. (Ret.) Nightingale has written numerous articles regarding the Infantry in both Vietnam and the Desert Wars. He is a member of the Ranger Hall of Fame.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at

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