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The air was saturated with the smell of the dead bodies that littered the ground. We hadn’t gotten a chance to pick-up our fallen comrades. The enemies had been up on us every time we chanced to poke our heads in view.
This was the first break in the enemies fire in over two hours. We figured they had to reload. However, we weren’t going to test out our theory.
One of our soldiers brought out our food packets. He started distributing them, making the group atmosphere and moral lift, even if it was only for a short time.
As he handed one to me, he asked if we knew what tomorrow was. Absently I shook my head. The group grumbled a little not sure why the man was disturbing their meager meal.
“It’s the 4th of July!” he claimed too excited for our situation.
Some of our unit looked surprised. Others looked distant as they remembered what the 4th was like back home.
I too was remembering the past. The smells of freshly cut grass and potato salad came upon me. I felt the heat from a hot sun, and I tasted cold lemonade that didn’t quite have enough sugar making me pucker my lips.
Wondering if my dad still had to fight the grill to light or if he bought a new one as he always claimed he would.
I also wish I could see my kid brother set off his first big firework. He had just turned old enough for mom to allow him.
I wanted to hear my mom’s mellow voice raise, telling us to hush as she says grace over the food.
Suddenly I was back. Back in another land, back in a war with men I didn’t hate but had to kill to protect the people back home. I was back with my platoon, who had swiftly became my brothers.
We bowed our head as the man who gave us the food started to say a prayer.
Even those that didn’t believe in God or any higher power bowed their head respectfully. Just so they could give thanks to somebody, anybody who didn’t wear a “vote for me” pin and a hypocritical smile.
Thanks for the food, for our companions and a thanks for their own lives.
“And Lord I pray that you watch after the people back home. For the ones who don’t know that they have someone keeping them safe, because we might not be around much longer to do that job. Amen.”