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A Letter From The War Department

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“Man down! Man down!” Shouts a solider. Two more come running with a cot and take him away.
He’s tossed in a ditch with fifty of his brothers, unrecognizable.
He was shot in the face and burned. He’s left to lie there in the dirt, motionless, killed instantly and none of his family knows.

“Sweetheart come in the house!” a mother calls to her son, Tony, playing tin the front yard.
It’s Tony’s fifth birthday today.
A cake sits in the ice box, ready to be served.
“Mommy, who‘s coming to my birthday party?” Tony asks his mother.
“Well, sweetheart, everyone. Grandma and grandpa, your big sister and I‘ll be there. All for you.”
She beams at her son then walks into the kitchen.
“What about daddy?” he asks following her.
Such a simple question yet it sends daggers to his mother’s heart.
“Well, daddy‘s in the war protecting us. Remember?”
“Yes mommy. But I wish he was he was here now! When is he coming home?”
Another sharp dagger pierces her heart but she manages to smile.
“I don’t know, honey. Hopefully soon. Just keep him in your prayers, okay?”
Tony nods and goes upstairs.
His mother’s knees buckle and sends her to the floor.
Tears soak her face and eyeliner snakes down her cheeks.

Each solider is carried out of the ditch for examination.
If identifies, a nametag is tied around his toe.
One solider is finally identified.
He was shot in the face but his nameplate is found in his pocket.
“Johnson, Matthew.” says the surgeon.
A nametag is tied around his toe and is sent off to the makeshift morgue.
“Notify the family immediately.” the surgeon tells a solider.
The solider nods and is sent off.
At the war department, notification of one Matthew Johnson: killed in action.
A worker types the horrifying words in black ink:


Mrs. Johnson,



We regret to inform you that your husband, Matthew Johnson was killed in











combat.

A messenger is called and takes it to 145 Rosewood Lane.

“Open this one, Tony!” his sister yells.
Tony opens the blue wrapping paper to find a new basketball.
“Oh boy! A new basketball! Thank you, mommy!”
Tony hugs his mother and returns to his gifts.
A knock at the door startles her but her family didn’t noticed.
She smiles at them and walks to the door.
A boy with a bike is on the porch.
“May I help you?” she asks the boy.
“Mrs. Johnson?”
“Yes?” Panic rises in her voice.
From the war department. I’m so sorry.





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