War Machine

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The End of My Beginning...

The sun neared the hills as the day grew forever older, I crested the hill and came into view of Missoula. Reds and oranges and violets, and every other color was splashed across the sky, in the heavens own art show. I could see our target off to my right, the national cemetery. I pulled to the side of the road, looking over the city, it was no longer the capital, as it had been moved to DC in the following months of the end of the War. I sat back in the seat, thinking, pondering. Anna moaned softly and lifted her head from my shoulder,“Are we here?” I nodded and pointed. She gave a sad smile and clasped my hand in her own, I looked at her.

My God, she was my very own angel, an Angel of Death. She was the most beautiful and fierce creature that God could’ve made. She yawned and arched her back, stretching, I turned on the car and we drove down to the cemetery. Anna tapped my arm and pointed me in the direction of Ben’s old home. I nodded and drove there first, we entered through the house into the courtyard. We knelt at his gravestone and gave our thanks once again, we picked a few roses off the rosebush and set one down on the top of his gravestone.

A eagle made its presence known to us, flying above our heads. We looked at it, then smiled, the old geezer did love eagles. We left, driving back to the cemetery, we stopped by Mason and Clara’s graves, then Will’s, and every person who had given their lives for our success. They were our storm from above, our purple hearts, every medal and reward was because of them. Their legacy would live on forever in the hearts of the survivors.

24 Hours Earlier...

The convoy pulled up on the parade field, it was hot in them, all of us were in our dress uniforms and those by themselves were uncomfortable. The Humvee parked and we formed up and marched to the huge ass platform. We stood at parade rest as the Dean spoke about our class, then it was the brigadier general, then finally the Secretary of Defense called on an honor squad. I stared at the man in shock as he called our squad. My body began moving, almost forced by Anna’s urgent command.

We formed up and stood at attention as he gave us all medals, all of us got Purple Hearts, Medal of Honor, etc. I zoned out as he droned on about the medals, and handed them to us as he called them out. All I could think of was that Mason and Clara should’ve been here, not me. I was so worthless, so unneeded. Why couldn’t it have been me? Anna’s hand tapped mine, I glanced at her and mentally asked what she needed. She shook her head and mentally told me to knock it off and just be grateful for their sacrifice.

I nodded slightly and tried to focus back on the Secretary’s words. Fortunately, he finished quickly, and our chests were loaded to the brim with medals. Soon the ceremony was over, and one by one we were called up to be given congratulations on an individual level. Everybody from the school had been given quite a few medals, and quite a bit of them were purple hearts. The war had taken its toll on everyone, even the “tough” guys.

We were dismissed and released to see relatives or each other. Three fourths of the students didn’t have families, like my squad, so they left. The Dean pulled us over and congratulated us on a chest of medals, and that we had done outstanding work on the field. We nodded and wandered off, Anna and I were done with people now. Why did everyone congratulate us? What about the dead?

We dully noted when the rest of our squad said their goodbyes and that they would be in touch soon. Soon Anna and I was all that were left on the field, sitting on the stairs up to the platform. It was finally over, so why were we not relieved? This is what we had been waiting for, and now it was a dull, depressing moment. I shook my head out of my thoughts and pulled out my wrist pad, Anna cocked her head but said nothing.

I scrolled through the internet and finally found what I had been looking for. I grabbed Anna’s arm and hailed a cab, we climbed in and I directed the man to the airport. We went through security and all that nonsense, soon we had made it on a plane headed for Missoula.

10 Years Later...

I watched as two children chased each other around a oak tree, giggling and smiling. I smiled, feeling an overwhelming joy. I had the most perfect live one could possibly ask for, I had two beautiful children, the most beautiful wife and my best friends all on the same block as I was. I stood up to stoke the fire for the BBQ, I could hear Mary, Glenn, Dylan, and Camille laughing together with Anna. They were all making other food for later tonight.

Clara and Mason ran and hugged my legs, giggling and nudging each other. I hoisted them onto my lap, grunting, they played with my beard, running their fingers through the hair. I growled at them and they pulled back laughing.“Daddy?” Clara asked, turning serious,“Yes?” I responded, she poked my nose,“Why does mommy have nightmares?” They both grew quiet, I looked over to Anna, asking for her help. She looked back at me through the window, exasperated, I looked at them again, and tickled them.

“Your mommy has them because she’s had some bad stuff happen before, most of us have.” Mason leaned against my chest,“Do you have nightmares too?” I nodded,“Yeah, But your mommy helps keep them away.” Clara giggled,“She’s your angel, huh?” I smiled and nodded, looking back at Anna again, laughing at some joke that they told. Again I was overwhelmed with happiness,“Yeah, she’s my Angel of Death.” They grew quiet again, they scooted off and went to chase each other around again, being children.

My dream had come true, I had two beautiful children and my own Angel of Death. I was so undeserving of their love, and yet they gave it to me anyways. I teared up as I looked up into the trees and the bright sky, giving one last thanks to the fallen and my friends. They were the ones truly deserving of a good future, the ones that deserved a life. But I was here and they weren’t, so it was my duty to preserve their legacy. I began to sing softy, the song that was written long ago.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

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