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Who We Are
“This is beyond messed up, Miller.” Griffin said as we gazed upon the war-torn city of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. I remained silent. Caleb Griffin, a smart and confident man, is tall and blonde with shining blue eyes. I met him a few months ago when we were stationed at a Marine base here in the city. He’s also a funny and optimistic guy who can keep a conversation going, unlike me. He worked as a cashier back in Louisiana before he considered joining the Marines. But being part of the military wasn’t part of his plan, though. Griffin wanted to go on to college and become an engineer. Unfortunately, the economy was in trouble and he got laid off, leaving him unable to pay for his education. And now he’s here.
After him waiting for me to respond, he continued, “I think we’re doing all the fighting here. Our Koreans are not doing anything! We lost so many of our Marines.” Griffin is talking about the new war we’re in.
A few months ago, Seoul was attacked by North Korean forces. They took us by surprise as the casualties skyrocketed within hours of the invasion. We, Marines, retaliated and fought back hard. The gritty battle went on for weeks, then months. Despite the enemies relentless fighting, we kept a strong resistance. We know if Seoul falls, nothing will stop North Korea from taking the South.
But it’s what really happened during the battle that is so horrifying. I witnessed a group of innocent civilians get disintegrated by an artillery shell. I think it was one of our artillery shells. And I was ordered to call in an airstrike on an enemy compound, but there were American POW’s in there, but it was too late. The images of their burnt corpses still haunt me. There was one point where I was ordered to kill one of the badly injured Marines. I still remember his face before I killed him. He wasn’t able to talk because he was drowning in his own blood, but I could see in his eyes that he was pleading for me to not kill him. Even though he was beyond saving, he wasn’t ready to die, yet. But orders are orders, so I still put him out of his misery.
Griffin continued to ramble, “I want to go home, so bad. I want to see my girl, Jasmine, again. I miss her red hair and her pretty smile.” It sounded like he starting to sob.
But to be honest, I couldn’t relate to him. Unlike Griffin, who is respected and loved from where he lived, I don’t have a family, or a girl who is waiting for me with open arms back home. I grew up as a timid boy, whose father got shot to death in the middle of illegal gambling. I was only six when that happened. Distraught, my mother blamed me for the death of her lover and neglected me. Depressed and bullied, I didn’t know what to do with my life and contemplated suicide, until I saw those the few, the proud, the Marines commercials and became inspired. So, I joined the military, and now I’m here I am in this godforsaken place.
“I don’t know how long we can keep this up, Miller.” Griffin said, “The end is nowhere in sight. We gave the enemy a real beating, but they’re not lighting up. Not a bit.”
“So, what?” I snapped, “We’re still going to be fighting and killing, like the heartless men we are.”
“C’mon, man. Don’t be like-”
“Don’t be like what, Griffin?!” I interrupted, “A grunt who kills and doesn’t have a care in the world, anymore? Last time I checked that’s exactly who I’m supposed to be. A killer!”
“No, that’s not who you are, Miller! Yes, we’ve killed so many and sure, it feels like we lost our humanity, and I know that we don’t have freedom of speech when it comes to following orders. But that doesn’t mean we can’t go back to how things were. We can still go home and-”
And that’s where I lost it, “I have no one to go back to! Don’t you get it?! I don’t have a girl who’s waiting for me back home, unlike you! Hell, I don’t even have a family to go back to, either! My father was shot to death when I was a kid. My mom doesn’t care for me, even though I write letters to her. I don’t know why I bother doing that, she never writes back to me. So it feels like I’m sending my letters to a black hole where they’re never going to be read.” I’m beginning to tear up, “Nobody would remember me if I ever come home! I was such a loser. Who would care for someone like me? No one! That’s who!”
“You’re wrong, Miller.” Griffin said calmly, “I care about you.”
In disbelief, I cried out, “Why?! Why do you care about me, huh? What do you see that makes me so special to you? Tell me! What am I to you?!”
“A brother. That’s what you are to me.”