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No Name Face
“No Name Face”
To the No Name Face,
You gaze into the barren battlefield; the frigid cold sends shudders through your spine.
Breath comes in smoky puffs through your hard pressed lungs, and the skin covering your
haggard bones is pallid and damp from trepid perspiration. Things are relaxed now, even though
that will change all too soon. Someone asks Moses to play a tune on the fife, and although oh so
quiet as to not stir the Redcoats, the sweet melody looms through the air and into your heart.
Everything is about to go on the line. Your integrity. Your courage. Your heart that is pounding
so furiously inside the cage of your ribs. Your life. The independence of continuing generations.
You turn around to face camp, watching as the fire cackles as if in mockery of your cold.
Nightfall arrives, as one defining moment after the other approaches. Once the firewood burns
out, you and a selected pick of the patriot army will advance to Redoubt Nine, and it’s all or
nothing. The Redcoats are strong, some would say the strongest army in all of the world. It
means that you’ll have to fight all the harder to get what you’ve strived for since you set foot into
the world. The independence of the young, the success of the forefathers who established the
colonies in freedom’s name. If you had descendants, they’d be proud, but you came alone. Your
footsteps can’t be retraced to anyone in the past, and nobody will ever seek their past and come
back to you. You’re an unidentified soldier- a no name face.
The last note from the fife tune rings out long and proud, then BANG! A bomb bursts in
the air and embers fall like rejected sweets. Grabbing hold of your frostbitten bayonets, you and
your men race to the Redoubt, ready to attack. Before you dash fast and fatal, you take note of the
horse drawn wagons standing by at the gates. These will take any wounded soldiers from
Yorktown to the Palace in Williamsburg, now used as a hospital for the sick and wounded, when
establishments here at camp are filled.
“The ride will be over fourteen excruciating hours long, so be careful not to get hurt,” you
ponder silently. You usually keep to yourself, so nobody knows your name in case something
happens to you. But you’re one of the youngest men, also one of the finest. You are very
observant and put the needs of others before your own. You know Moses brings a lot of joy to
people with his music, you can’t imagine what the army would be like without him. Ezra wants
to be a preacher someday; you wouldn’t dare take that away from him by letting him lay down
his life for you. John gives a desperate cry as the British artilleries begin to shoot and the
Howitzers spit out fire that travels for yards and yards. You see the orange and yellow panels of
sky approaching from afar.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do! I’ve got my wife and three children at home that I
have to worry about! I can’t let them down. I have to make it out of the fight alive!”
You realize that all these people have aspirations and hopes, even though they’ve done
wrong too. They might not deserve any mercy, but you’re going to give it to them either way. It
may not be that you have less to live for. But right now, all that matters is what you have to fight
for. The enemy zooms in on you and your men. A Mortar shell from Lord -knows -where flies
towards John, and without a second thought you fly in front of him. You take the brunt of it, but
he’s wounded too.
Things are a mite blurry from there, kind of like panes of glass in the palaces with
innumerable raindrops descending down the surface. After the Redoubt is captured by your men,
a nurse rushes out and thrusts you and John into separate wagons. The hospitals on base have
already filled up so it’s off to Williamsburg. The commute is long and dreadful; nobody knows
who you are. You don’t know yourself. Your eyes are shut tight, however you can hear things
that are going on around you from the depths of your grueling unconsciousness.
“Horseman, slow down! You’re making these men hurt all the worse!” The nurse rubs her
hand across your heavily scarred face, barking at the horseman. You groan a little, wanting to tell
her that it really doesn’t hurt all that bad.
You wake at the hospital, laying on a straw mat atop a wood paneled floor. Candles are
burning dimly around the room, and you don’t think that there will ever be a candle burning for
your memory. You long to know who you are, what you’ve done, and what will become of you.
You don’t know it but there are many familiar faces in the room. Yours will be the only soul lost
tonight. Over to the left is John, and his crestfallen wife and three children are stooped over by
his side. His eldest son is Matthew, aged at ten. He has a middle daughter named Leah- she’s five
and loves her Daddy. You see this and support your sacrifice. His baby is Mary, who gazes over
at you with little pools of blue and manages a tiny smile. One day she’ll be glad that you let her
Pa live instead of letting him die for you. You have another realization; you don’t work hard for
yourself. While the king of the men in red may have wronged you and the others in the colonies,
you don’t have much against the soldiers themselves. You do it for Matthew, Leah, and Mary. If
you hadn’t fought so hard and sacrificed so much, they never would have become independent,
and you would have never been successful.
Just then, the endless diamond sky clears and becomes as blue as on a warm spring day.
From the white clouds comes a man scarred much like yourself. Through the window He enters,
standing by your mat and interlocking your callused fingers in His. The candles in the room
flicker and your eyelids flutter shut. But you move towards an even brighter light. All the pain
that you had is gone as He helps you exit from earth into eternity. Nobody sees you all the while
because you were hidden in the Shadow of His hand as you marched through the battlefield of
When you reach the heavens, the aroma is sweet and fresh. You breathe the fresh air
much different from the stagnant odor of bombs and bullets. You don’t know what you did to
deserve to be there, but that’s just the thing. One day John will wake up in the room with the
wood paneled floor and think: “Why me?” You made many sacrifices and fought well against the
giants of life, even though nobody can identify you on earth. There are a lot of colors in the skies-
blues, greens, oranges, and golds. The sound of triumphant trumpets blaring in the distance is
rapture to your ears. You stare around incredulously, not believing that what you see is true.
There are a lot of different people wandering around- blacks, whites, Spaniards, Indians, and a
whole lot of types of people you’ve never seen before.
You know that you left an example for those to follow, perhaps even the ones coming
long after. You never asked for a face to match your name, and never did you ask anyone to make
a sacrifice for your sake, only you accepted the one that was made for you on a tree thousands of
years back. There are a lot of people that hear “Unknown soldier” and wonder who on earth that
is, but it only really matters the work that went into the life and what came out of it. For you it
was success because of your unusual effort that you put into things. On your tombstone four
things are written:
Unidentified Soldier of the Revolution
Circa 1763- 1781
Because you were so resolute and resilient, the only thing that matters to me is the dash.
Not the name, the date of birth, or the date of death, but what runs in between. To me that is your
immortality, and long lived success. I apologize if I told your story inaccurately, but I just felt the
need to thank you with the record of what my Pa told me. Here you are today, wandering
amongst the clouds that belong to me and my brethren. Aye, you have a name, and it is love,
which is so vaguely remembered in the hearts of the young.
With great respect,
Mary, daughter of John, the baby you fought and died for, fourteen years later
You are not forgotten.