Where we Stood
“So here we are pal, at the edge of the world, under trenches, living face close to the dirt. Seems like none of these things are about to end any time soon. Do you think this is all worth fighting for?”
“Everything is worth fighting for, you know why? It’s better than nothing, everything is better than nothing.”
The two of them were there, staring across the long vast of seas and a beach filled with dead bodies of their fallen brothers. They stared across the uncertain horizon with no end and no boundaries. It seemed like days ago when they were back in camp waiting for the time for Operation Overlord. But now, where do they stand? They now stand in a place where no man can conquer, a place where no man dares to enter. They have entered the gates of hell and it opened welcomely.
The peace has taken its toll for at least a moment. There was still sound of carnage around them, the screams of their enemies begging for their lives, the muzzled sound of gunfire from distant places, but it was better than what they heard before. The sound of gunfire from the bunkers, the whiz of bullets passing though sea water, the scream of men, their brothers shouting in agony and despair, the endless explosions that not only tore the flesh, but also the sanity of men and alongside that was their souls. Those were the things they heard and until now it ringed in their ears, haunting them, reminding them that it’s not over and that it’s only beginning and that there will be no end to the madness. There might be an end to the war, but the war would still rage on and leave marks in their souls. The soldiers, the people who survived will remember it in their dreams, in the days of their lives.
He clung on his rifle, he was scared and he was trembling. He sat down and covered his eyes. He started to cry. His friend sat beside him and hugged him.
“Everything’s going to be alright, listen to me, we’ll survive this and we’ll live through this.”
They all deserved a chance at living or at least to survive long enough to see and hug their families again, to feel the warmth of their children hugging them, to walk alongside their fathers and mothers and talk to them for the last time. They all deserved that but some were not deserving enough.
Tears flowed in his dirty cheeks filled with dirt. His eyes were teary when he looked at his friend, his brother-in-arms. That’s when he saw that his friend was scared too, that he was crying, but his friend held the noise deep inside. He only saw the tears in his eyes and that’s when he knew that they were not strong enough for any of those things that had happened to them. It was all just a big blur of running and shooting, trying to dodge the bullets that come at them, but every bullet they dodged hit another. It took a toll at them, an ache in their body, a hit in their sanity and a devastation in their soul.
He thought of many different things as he and his friend stared through the endless horizon. Soldiers and tanks started to flood the beach. Some of the men started to grab the dead bodies of their fallen comrades and piled them on a boat nearby. At that moment he thought of God and how he would pick the men worthy to live another day. How can God pick the men worthy to live when it was men who decided whom to point and shoot the gun at? There was no judgement of God in this scenario; there was only the judgement of men and from his knowledge, the judgement of men always fails. He had lost hundreds of his comrades because of this judgement and he knew that he would lose a whole lot more. It was in the matter of accepting that there are some things that are out of his control.
“This is just the beginning, there’s more coming and I’m not expecting that things would get better, I’m not expecting that tomorrow they would just surrender, I’m just hoping that one day, when all of this is over and the white flag is seen across the horizon, we can go back home and live our lives once again, as fathers, as brothers, as friends.”
He looked at him, staring right in his eyes as he said those words. His friend was looking at the horizon as he said the words that he would remember for the rest of his life. It was the words that would give him regret and hope at the same time, regret that he believed that they would still see each other one day and hope for that future ahead of him.
It was getting calmer and calmer by the minute. He could hear the sound of his fellow soldiers talking, taking a smoke together, and crying. There was lot of crying to be done and a lot of things to be talked about. But for the two of them, they were done with the talk and the crying, they just wanted to look at the place where they stood, the place that took their breath away for that moment in time when they thought they were in hell. After a while, it didn’t feel like hell anymore, somehow it felt like home to them. The sun across the horizon, the laughter they heard, somehow things were getting better, somehow they knew that they were still alive and kicking.
“This is the place where we stand in the province of men, the place where we found peace in the middle of war, the place where we fought when we couldn’t, the place where we gave it all when we had nothing. Remember, my friend, my brother, this is the place where we stood.”