Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day.

I wrote this in honor of our Veterans, but especially in honor of my two grandfathers who each have served in the Armed Forces. It's fictional, but I intended it to really make people think about what this day means by presenting them with two drastically different Christmases. This day should honor both the men and women who have either put their lives on the line or lost their lives in the quest for freedom. They deserve our undying respect and gratitude. Thank God for our Veterans who have made America what it is today.

Today is December 25th.

It's a cold Christmas morning. As you raise out of bed, the pocket of heat beneath your blanket escapes and the frigid air rushes in. Quickly, you pull a sweatshirt over your pajamas and walk to your frosted window pane. Outside, you look around at the white, snow-dusted earth before your breath fogs up the glass.

After a hot shower, you go downstairs to meet your smiling family. Cheerfully, they call to you, "Merry Christmas!" You echo their greeting with a smile, hugging each of them as you walk around the room. Everyone is dressed warmly in festive, red and green clothing. Several of them are gathered around the hearth where a small fire quietly crackles.

A lone, evergreen Christmas tree stands in the corner, covered with twinkling lights, tinsel, and colored glass ornaments. Several boxes with flamboyant patterns are neatly stacked beneath the tree, each bearing a label with its recipient's name. Gradually, the family begins distributing the presents, and before long, the floor is littered with various ribbons and torn wrapping paper. Everyone exchanges thank yous, holding their gifts with excitement, and as the discarded wrappings are collected, you make your way to the kitchen.

The aroma from the charred wood in the fireplace mixes with the various food smells wafting from the oven. The sticky sweet smell of honey glazed ham, a sharp scent of cranberries, and a cloud-like scent of bread fill your nostrils and practically overload the senses. You sit down at the table, speaking softly as you await the prayer to be said. The food is blessed, and soon, the food is gone. It tasted even better than it smelled.

With a full stomach and tired eyes, you kick back on the couch. The sound of Christmas music softly plays, and as you drift off to sleep, you catch a glimpse through the window as snow gently falls.

Today is December 25th.

His freezing, mud-soaked socks have rubbed his ankles raw. With each successive step, he feels the throb of his aching legs, struggling to support his body. This is the third night he has not slept. The stars in the navy abyss above his head are his only source of light, the sun has not yet risen.

Clutching his canteen, he attempts to get any liquid he can into his body. His cracked, bleeding lips sting as he presses them to the neck of the container, and unfortunately, only few drops of water are left. Clamping his teeth, he feels the grit of dirt and sand in the water. He swallows what little he can bear, and as the brown liquid scratches down his throat, he tries to muffle his mouth as he gags and coughs.

Suddenly, his leader whispers an order for the platoon to halt. There is a long silence, and the darkness of the night seems to be closing in on him and his fellow soldiers. Although their pause is brief, it feels like hours have passed, and every second feels longer than the last.

His heart is racing, causing his throbbing legs to worsen. His arms are pulsating to the point where he can practically feel the rushes of blood forcing their way through his veins, all the way to his fingertips. The pressure inside is mounting, the building mental terror and the resulting physical pain.

At this point, he becomes frightfully aware of his existence. It's as if nothing exists beyond the boundaries of his trembling body. Every heartbeat forces its way through his being, resounding in his ears like the thud of a large, canvas drum. However, despite this eruption of emotion and feeling within him, the world around him remains inescapably silent.

Not a whisper. Not a footstep. Not a sound. Just the steady drum-like beat of his heart.

But there is something, a presence somewhere nearby. He knows. He can feel it.

And then...the silence is torn.

He suddenly sees a rapid series of muzzle flashes. Each flash is closely followed by a rippling stream of bullets tearing through everything in their path. Tearing through him. The sound of the firing weapons continues to echo in his ears as he struggles to move, but his body remains motionless. The only sign of his fading life is the heaving of his blood soaked chest. As he drifts away, he leans his head back catches one final glimpse of the night sky.

Today is December 25th. And while you're blissfully unaware of how blessed you are, someone's son lost his life protecting what you take for granted everyday.

Freedom is not free. Honor those that have served.

No comments:

Post a Comment