Helicopter blades slow to a near stop. Boots hit the tall grass and begin their trek into the ominous jungle. The unfamiliar foliage peaks curiosity and lungs are penetrated with foreign air. Our soldiers are adorned with pride and fear, along with a patch of red, white and blue, stitched above each heart. Shaky hands grasp photos of home, and lips murmur prayers to make it there, outside of a body bag.
Traffic slows to a near stop. Families spill out of their cars and march into the crowd. The cramped sidewalks provoke annoyance and haste, and lungs fill with heat. Children are adorned in excitement and a desire for candy, along with the colors of America, red, white, and blue. Determined hands grasp for candy scattered on the street, and lips are painted with melted chocolate.
Shots echo through the souls of soldiers, as they conceal themselves behind mangroves and in ditches. Fingers hastily grasp triggers. Eyes meet from opposing sides, filled with both empathy and hate. Bodies decorate the jungle floor with blood and silence.
Fireworks echo through the ears of every individual, as they line up on the grass, gazing upward. Fingers hastily grab their cameras. Eyes reflect the colors of the exploding fire in the sky, filled with both wonder and amazement. The spectators decorate the landscape with blankets and coolers overflowing with Cola.
The plane begins its ascent into the azure sky. Soldiers look through the mist to the landscape, to a place they once stood, and where some will stay forever in memory. The cars file out of their formation in the meadow. Children look through the maze of headlights and fireflies, awaiting the next Memorial Day. Feet walk up the crooked front steps, and eyes meet. Arms interlock and tears stream down the cheeks of both a father and his family, finally reunited, on a day of remembrance and pride.