What Every Soldier Should Know


Turner, Brian




Brian Turner is an American writer and veteran of the United State Army. His first book, Here, Bullet, is based off his experiences in Iraq and won the Beatrice Hawley Award in 2005. “What Every Solider Should Know” creatively translates phrases and situations like ceremonial traditions from Iraqi culture for American soldiers. This poem raises questions about patriotism, democracy, cultural and ethnic differences, tolerance and intolerance, education, and identity.

Full Text*

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Originally published in Here, Bullet (2005)


Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.


Citizenship and DemocracyKnowledge and Uncertainty

Big Questions

Does truth vary across cultures or is it universal?What do we know for sure? What do we not know?


Taking Action

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. How would you describe the emotions in this poem?
  2. How do you see this poem—as it a set of instructions, warnings, reflections, or something else? Did you learn anything from this poem?
  3. What do you think of the speaker’s advice about the language? Do you agree on which sayings are most useful?
  4. Who is this poem addressed to?
  5. What are the best ways to learn about other cultures and communities? Do you see these in this poem?
  6. Does the poem intend to help an American become an insider or remain an outsider in different countries?
  7. Have you had to interact with cultures that were different from your own? Which ones and how have you reacted?
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