We Still Carry

There are many things that I still carry since the war, and with each living day it gets heavier and heavier.

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1. The Burden

Like the final beat of a song. That's the only way I could imagine to describe it. The short bang of a drum and then it's all over. It seems abrupt at first, but then you play it over and over in your head and suddenly it seems all too slow. Each millisecond passing carved into your memory with a knife. His knife. The knife he'd carried with him since day one. The one his father gave him, with his initials etched beside his grandfathers. 'A true blue knife of world war one' he'd tell us. 'Something for the kids, when they're old enough, Yanno? Family airballoon or whatever they call it.' Except, as of today, that idea was simply that. An idea. Wistful thinking. No, Turner would never see the light in his boys eyes as he hands him the knife, explaining his own experiences with war and silently praying that his own flesh would never be able to understand the horrors he endured. Nor would his son ever stop waiting for the rumble of his fathers pick up truck to stop in their driveway. It was a tragedy. A taunting tragedy that keeps me awake even now. It was moments like these, moments where good men died 'honourable' deaths that you would look up at the sky and wonder in awe how the fuck you're still alive. Yet, the plain and awful truth is, the dead are dead, and the living must go on. So we covered Turner's body, taking his rucksack, ammo, canteen. All the things he certainly wouldn't be needing anymore. One soldier - Carter if I remember correctly - emptied his pockets, finding nothing but two pictures. One of his three year old boy and the other of his wife. It felt wrong, going through his belongings as such. Necessary, yes, but that didn't and still doesn't make it feel okay. We tucked them in a bag alongside the knife and tied it to his limp wrist. We all knew it would be shipped off in a package accompanied by a letter from our Lieutenant stating the blatantly obvious. They were the hardest of times. Made me wonder why we were fighting in the first place. Seemed at the time a rather merciless solution to a temporary problem. Id love to say I now know better, that war is a necessary human structure, but after seeing so many soldiers, so many friends die at the hands of war, I can't say I'm an avid fan of the concept. Nevertheless, there I was, surrounded by my family, my brothers, feeling extremities words lack the capacity to explain. War was hard. It took almost everything in you to get up each and every day. It takes all a mans will to watch people die over and over and over again. It's sick. The people that wanted this war sit on the sidelines and watch good innocent people fight. Good innocent people die. Good innocent people become cold unfeeling machines. All the while, the people who started this, the people who made this happen sit and watch. Watch us suffer for them, as if our lives were easily replaceable. As if the lives of our family and friends would be exactly the same without us. Did they ever stop to mourn the blood on their hands? Or was it simply below them to think of us. The people who risk their lives each and every day fighting for a cause we don't even believe in. Fighting for the sake of fighting. Killing for the sake of killing. Turner was a good man, a good father, and a good soldier. In every aspect of the word he was good. And he died, in a way that was unjust. His son will grow up without a father, the same as many daughters and sons will grow up without the vital figure of a father. Wives left widowed and parents left to bury their own children. All in the name of war. A war fought by the people, for the richer people. A war that no one won. Because no one ever really wins wars. They only start them.

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