He stood at the head of his rack, facing the boy across from him. He could hear the yelling around him. The simulated chaos that overshadowed his new world. The boy across from him couldn’t be older than 17. Himself being just shy of 19 years old, had no idea of how to pay taxes, or go for an interview, or even pay rent. The only thing that he knew was that his country was in danger. He wanted to protect his family. He wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. And here he was.
He pushed his body and his mind to it’s limits and past them. He came back a man. A man who knew the price to be paid for the freedom that so many men and women enjoy daily. He came back with a focus and a determination that was unlike anything else that anyone has ever experienced. He was strong and capable, and ready to fight. He was now, a United States Marine.
Next thing he knew, he was running across the beaches of Vietnam. He was patrolling from the beaches inland. Going through the villages and fields searching and questioning but the Vietcong were no where to be found. He just began to think he was in the clear, until a few nights later. Patrolling through the forests when all of the sudden, the Marine in front of him drops.
Everything slows down in his mind as the chaos unfolds before him. It’s slow motion as the Marine falls to the ground. The thunderous roar of gun fire blasts through the forests. Screaming of injured and dying men echo through the trees. He must focus. Block out the ensuing panic and find cover. He sees the muzzle flashes in the distance and zeros his rifle in. A Marine and his rifle is a beyond deadly combination. Even more so, a focused, and pissed off Marine with his rifle. All at once a 19 year old boy has just experienced the ultimate horrors of war.
Why? Why does this kid risk the chance of giving up his life, his future? There is something different that sets him apart from any other 19 year old back in the States. He has confidence in his abilities. He is strong, and focused. With one calm breath, he issues death to those who pose a threat to his country. He is 19, but he more capable than any normal man.
Returning home is cursed and hated. People pray for his death. They shout and radar with anger that to him is unfounded. How would they ever understand? It’s not a choice of where to go… but a duty to his country. Could they understand that he was giving everything he had for strangers back home? And now what? They want to crucify him. He’s not the bad guy. He never go in trouble at school. He never strayed off the path. He went to Church every Sunday and helped his little sister with math homework. He was the quarterback on the High School football team. He goes to war to protect the values that his country stands for and all the sudden, nothing else matters. To them, he is a killer. But he walks through the front door to his old beaten up two story house and sees his mother sitting by the TV watching new of the troops who had just returned home. “Ma…” He says carefully. “I’m home”.