Stark skies, smoke all around, sounds of explosions and sudden shrieks.
I clutched on to my rifle, placed my finger in the trigger as tried my best to survive.
War is cruel and unfair, why to we have to fight a battle for someone’s ambition and to destroy another’s dream?
Those men on the other side didn’t ask to be enlisted to this stupid war just as much as I am, yet we’re senselessly killing each other.
Why are we doing this, who’s killing us?
Robbing us of life, joy and light, mocking us in everything thing we believed in.
Does our blood spilled do anything good for this nation, does help the grass to grow and the sun to shine?
I’ve survived yet another night, today I witnessed too much bloodshed.
I took out your picture that I’ve hidden under helmet. I stare blankly into it.
I don’t know what to do, I can’t eat the trash the mess to dishing out. All my cherished dreams of honour and valour all shatter at the thought of not ever being able to see you again. I wanted to run away, abandon it all but I know I cannot.
It all seems so surreal now. Is it me or is the smell of gun powder getting to my head?
I wake up every morning, dodging bullets and firing some of my own. I fight for honour or at least what I think is honour, under the facades of bravado and valour. The truth is I’m just a mere man fearful of death, fearful of losing my life to the enemy.
But despite my fears, I rush towards the tides of battle, I had to fight, not just for a chance to be with you, to protect my family who awaits my return, to protect the neighbours and their dog – Max, to make the playground safe for Sally and Tim to play again. To safeguard the peace of our nation, but honestly – to make sure I return home in one piece.
But even when I fear, battle calls out to me, telling me to rise up, and step up. The smell of impeding adventure thrills me, even if risk and danger are involved. I had my share of bullet wounds, but still I persist, what can’t kill me, can only make me stronger. But every time a bullet burns my flesh, I just pray that it never reaches my heart. I’ve made friends with the medics, they patch me up fast and I’m ready to go.
I see your picture again, and the ring I’ve sold my precious guitar to buy.
I won’t give up, not yet. Despite all surmounting circumstances against me, I press on in hope of seeing you again.
I won’t give up, I will fight for a cause, to put that ring on your finger.
Will you still remember me when I return? I am so battle hardened I don’t think I look the same anymore. I can’t remember how long has it been already.
How long has it been in this cursed camp? It seems like a year already.
Your picture is slightly crumpled, but as long as I can still see your face I’m content.
Today the 54th battery has been deployed, they are starting again, clearing out the coordinates before my section moves in.
I long for rest. But I can’t. I’m afraid you’ll forget about me, that you might find me hideous.
Today’s your birthday isn’t it? I wish you the best, I don’t know when I’ll be able celebrate it with you but I pray you’ll receive what you pray for. Happy Birthday.
My buddy lost his leg today; Sergeant Samuel “Smokey” Ashton is unfit for battle. And they sent him home. I’m alone once more.
Today was supposed to be special day, was it? I can’t remember the significance of this date anymore.
Oh heck, it’s just another day.
My buddies asked me about the picture under my helmet. They mock me of my hopes of seeing you again. They laugh at me for trying to survive just to see you again.
I asked myself why do I try so hard? Why do I love you so?
I thought hard about it. I took a whole night thinking about it.
To me, you’re my first love. In actuality, I had many loves before you, but they all pale in comparison to you. I felt like I’ve never loved before I met you.
I had never believed in love at first sight. I gave up on love when I entered the military.
I despised romance, thinking it’ll never happen to me.
The movies make it look so easy to fall in love. I scorned at such lies, I look upon such childish hopes with disdain.
Until I saw you, they call it hope. I call hope by your name.
What was it about you that made me stop in the middle of a busy street, wanting to approach yet unable to move.
What made my legs feel like lead and my heart beat like my rifle.
They call it nervousness, I call it foolish. You called it silly.
I was trained with a mental focus like steel and inbred in me was an iron-will. Yet the thought of you breaks the hardest of focus, weakens the strongest of wills.
I mocked hopeless forlorn lovers, but I, myself had turned into a lovelorn child. I had never felt this way till I met you. Just how do you do it?
I had a stone cold heart yet your presence made my heart pliable again. You allowed me to love again. Though it had only been one way.
Though it’s only silent admiration from afar, though you’ll always be at the corner of my eye. Though I can only steal quick glances of you, while sipping coffee. I could only silently hope, and bear with the fear of being rejected and put up with the ebbing ache.
Is this how falling in love feels like? Yet, I’ll persevere.
You gave me a chance, I could finally approach you, yet this war took away my only chance to love. I will not grow bitter, but I’ll fight my way back to you.
It’s Christmas, they invited a pastor over to preach to us.
I had almost given up on religion, I can’t remember when did I last pray.
Though the metal cross still hangs around my neck along with my dog tag, I had forgotten how it feels to be watched over by a higher being.
This pastor is different, he doesn’t preach the way it’s usually done back home.
“Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship. The baby boy that Mary bore was born to save you. Do you not know the meaning of the name Jesus? It means Saviour!”
I nodded violently and listened with my mouth opened. I had never heard anything like this.
“You’ve been fighting a long war, I know you long for rest! But I have good news to tell you!” shouted the Preacher as he stepped up on a barrel.
“Jesus Christ! Came to win a war you could never win, fought for you and died on your behalf! If there is any greater comrade you have today, it is this man!”
(and he took out a picture of a cross with a man hung on it.)
“This man, fully God yet fully man, hung on a cross meant for you and me. Paid a debt we could never pay, won a war we saw as hopeless. A comrade who would place his life on the line for you. A friend, a brother who would take the bullet for you.!”
Tears rolled down my dusty cheeks as I listened such good news that I’ve never heard till now.
“Now my fellow brothers, would like to know this friend, would you like to invite him into your life – it’s been a harsh and cruel war out there. But I promise you, Jesus cares and he will safeguard your life, he will rescue you, he will bring you back home!”
My hand shot out without hesitation, I didn’t care who was around me, I raised my hand and shouted. “I want to know this Jesus you talk about. I want him NOW!”
I knew this Jesus was my only chance home, if those promises were true, I’ll give my life to this Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
This Christmas, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour, and this war wasn’t the same again.
I prayed for every man I had to shoot, I didn’t aim for their vital points, I simply disabled them, a shot to the leg or arm. I had to protect my comrades, yet I’m not blood thirsty enough to kill those young men. They’re simply trying to protect their comrades just as I am.
My section captured their eastern command post. We secured the compound and retrieved some ammunition. I got my boys to round up the enemy soldiers and bring them back to the last rally point.
For once the silver cross hanging around my neck has significance, a reason to be there.
I took the cross and kissed it. It’s not the just the cross that saved me, but the man who hung on it that guards my life. I went to a quiet corner to pray and just thank Jesus for guarding me and my men so far.
And I pray you’re doing well, I know I’m coming back home for you. I’m different man now.
A miracle happened, I didn’t get to hear much but news from the Ops room says that the war is over!
I couldn’t believe my ears at first, but slowly the news sank in.
Thank you Jesus, you made a way. I finally getting to go home!
Sergeant Roger from Ops room told me that our nation is signing a peace treaty with the other country. And from this very moment, there shall be a ceasefire.
I couldn’t help but tear. Streams of salty tears flowed from my weary eyes.
Tears of joy.
I placed my rifle on the ground, and raised my hands. I thanked this Jesus who came at the right time to rescue me.
I took off my helmet and the chain around my neck, and saw how the cross glistened in the sun.
And I saw your photo, still crumpled, but now there’s hope.
Now I get to see the real face not just a photo.
Today, a ceremony was held at the memorial square to remember my comrades who gave their lives to protect the country.
A acclamation were recited as our heads were bowed down.
“Today we gather here, not very far from the resting place of the others who gave up their lives to defend our country.
Today we remember men, men of honour. Some of them – your sons, some of them – your brothers, and some, your beloved husbands.
My words can never alleviate the pain from the loss your family is facing today.
But I applaud you. For your son, your brother and your husband have become heroes of the nations. They have answered the call of duty and faithfully upheld their creed as soldiers of our Nation. Up to the last breath they had.
These men are men of valour, men of courage. Men you’re proud of. That the Nation is proud of.
Today, the governors of our other states have issued an order that our National Flag and the flags of their respective state flags be flown at half-mast on the day of our men’s funerals. We are not alone in honouring them
And why this reaction? Why hundreds of people at funerals? Why governors issuing decrees for flags to be flown at half mast?
Because we are all in awe of their great sacrifice, courage and devotion to duty and each other. These men, our men, are fallen on the field of battle. Forever more that is their legacy. Their names are now enshrined on the scroll of America’s hallowed dead. And where they died, where they shed their blood, is sacred ground to us.
Today we mourn the loss of good men, faithful men. May God bless their souls and those of their families gathered here today.”
And as the Funeral March is played, I bow my head, remembering my fallen comrades, I prayed for their families, that comfort would rest upon them.
Somehow this seemed like surreal valour, as the medal of valour that I share with my comrades gleamed in the sun. as the medal is pinned on my uniform. I see the same medal pinned on their uniforms.
Elliot ‘e’ Williams, was presented with the medal of valour, for gallantry, for faithfully upholding his creed as a ranger, for duty to his country and for valour of which this ribbon signifies.
I thank God for keeping me alive, whether there’s a ribbon or not, I’m just glad, glad I’m home to see you once more.
Immanuel (23 March 08, updated 2011)