Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick a weapon and stand a post.
— Aaron Sorkin, monologue by Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men.
No apologies. This quote is simply a guilty pleasure. I get goose bumps every time Tom Cruise provokes Nicholson to the point that Nicholson erupts with the above soliloquy.
Sorkin is a brilliant writer and a master wordsmith. I am a ardent fan of The West Wing primarily because of Sorkin’s trademark rapid-fire dialogue and extended monologues. Good words, well assembled, are a true delight.
Write on, Aaron.