The March

March 8, 2008
By Brett Keegan, North Syracuse, NY

They were walking forth in a dream. Each sight which greeted their eyes seemed but gentle wisps upon the fabric of dreamland, men’s eyes opened wide at the fleeting visions as they passed through the cascade of beauty. Each tree was a mighty fortress, a great bulwark against reality, yet the men knew by the uncomfortable uniforms upon their fit, slender figures that reality was going to soon great them. The birds and their forest brethren played wistful, joyous tunes, which lingered in the air. Had they a moment to rest, they would have sat and stared at the beautiful sights with utmost joy and tranquility, but unfortunately, they had no time. Instead, they marched onward.

After the troops left the wonderful dream forest sweat began to perspire upon their brows. As all men in war do when a battle is nigh, their thoughts turned to family and home. As they walked sweat mingled with. Would this be the last time they would be alive? Will they ever return? Will anyone remember? The leaders, sensing dismay, began singing patriotic hymns to raise the ever plummeting morale, but though the men sang with their mouths, their heart still ached and screamed. As of yet, there has been no camouflage built for the hearts’ of men. But, since retreat was impossible, the men buckled their gear and prepared. They were approaching certain death, yet they marched onward.

The cries of nature silenced; even it was to show respect for these poor souls. In the remorseful calm a soldier suddenly broke off into powerful, tormented sobs. His fellows ineffectually tried to calm the man, but their own anguish soon overpowered their false semblance of bravery. Who wants to be brave? Who wants to die? The men’s cries rose and fell as each step took them over the undulating terrain. “Why?” The question filled each man’s body, “why?” Their fellow comrades knew not, and nature was puzzled by this terrible conundrum. Yet, the soldiers knew that an answer would come, and they marched onward.

Harken to the beckoning of the reaper. His sour eyes flashing with the fires of hell. His wicked blade glinting with the reflections of cold light. His cloak fashioned from blood and tears.
Harken to him for he calls upon the moonlit moor which the soldiers now traverse. The men sense it, and their pity turns to fear. They know that their death approaches. Why not run? And then they remember the order: “all routers will be shot on sight.” But this grim order does not deter the sobbing man of earlier to try to hasten the inevitable. He flees, and as the hesitant shots crack, the reaper mows down his first victim. He sharpens his scythe; the soldiers march onward.

After a glorious night’s rest, the march resumes. The morale has improved; the men now look forward to death in order to end this horrific march to the inevitable. They will soon have their wish. At mid-day a new sound is in the air. It is a hollow booming, like the voice of God foretelling their fate. They know it is artillery; they know it is death. They fear yet desire it. The booming continues and grows, and later it is joined with a rattling din: the unmistakable sound of rifles. The men harden their hearts and march onward.

The next day they enter another forest, but this does not brighten the soldiers’ spirits. The gnarled trees put a hush on the men as they reach out with their twisted arms. They cover the sun in their creeping, sickly leaves. They are being killed from the inside out; the men can relate. As they leave the forest another sight greets them: it is the enemy. They can hit their flanks, and they begin to charge. With a sanguine blood cry each man charges. They must kill everyone. Their minds race to that one simple question once again: “why?” They kill many of the foes, but they are too few, and all perish in that fateful moment. It was too fast, and the men no longer march onward.

On that site you will now find a forest, but it is no forest of trees. It is a somber forest of graves planted by the seeds of war, and the only sound shall be of soulful silence.

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