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GUTS, GLORY, NO BLOOD

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Ratatat. Thud. These sounds. These sounds, over and over again, never ending. The sounds of young soldiers, being slain. Blood runs down the beach in rivers. I stare at my boots in shock. They are coated in a slurry of red and brown. Mud and blood. I crouch. Fresh off the chopper. On a beach. No help. Just us. These pawns. Thrown into the dirt and muck, for a pointless war. My boots sink into wet sand. They are heavy. I move, not because I want to, but because if I don’t, that’s it. My rifle, encased in plastic to keep off the damp, pulls on my shoulder, the strap like a saw on wood. I come to a stop. Down. An explosion. Screams. The tree I hide behind trembles. The sand puffs into the air. The impact, it shook my bones. I run up the hill into the jungle, as night encroaches on the few of us soldiers who weren’t lost. But, in a way, at least their fight is over. We still face death, life, and whatever is in between. The sun, falls through the sky at an alarming rate. Soon, we can see the bullets of our enemies streak through the night like fireflies. We dig in. Private Adams and I shoot into the ground with our shovels, our hands being rubbed of their skin with every painful pass. Into the hole, we crouch, like scared rabbits. All we need to do is hold the beach until sunrise when our backup will arrive. Just hold on. Blood has soaked into the forest, making it seem like the trees themselves have become bloodthirsty for blood. It seems like this whole country wants us dead. We entered a war that wasn’t ours. To save lives by ending others. In this ditch, this ditch I dug. In my mind. In my thoughts, I almost don’t see the sneak attack from our flank. “Eyes back!” I scream, and bullets fly. These people seemed to come out of the trees, rocks, and even the dirt. We fought, feeding the river of blood. Guts, and blood. Everwhere. I can smell it. We push them back. Their trumpets call them back for their retreat. Towards dawn, I dare a look outside the cover. In the morning light creeping through the Vietnam trees, with mist rising from the blood saturated ground, I see them. Dead. Everywhere. People scattered, like stones. Rifles, shells, and helmets, scattered across the jungle floor. I remove my helmet. Place it across my chest, and looking down, I say, “to all those who have seen war, and have caused war, I say this: There is guts, blood, but no damn glory, just pain.” Men peek out of their holes, like prairie dogs. They slowly inch out. One falls to his knees, as he sees his brother with a red hole in his chest. They all remove their helmets. A tall, lanky soldier steps forward. His hair, once blond, is now matted with blood, and dirt. “Life is part of death. Death is part of life. But this, this not how. We did this.” All eyes look over and I see them. Tired, scared eyes. Eyes. I see a tear. A single tear, streak down a soldier’s face, carrying the dirt and blood with it. It falls, as if in slow motion, and hits the dirt. Absorbed into the dirt, another piece of someone to add to the river of blood. Years later, I sit. I sit on the cold, rough cement. On the sidewalks of New York. With the side of a store as my pillow. The same jacket I wore in combat, keeps me warm at night. A bottle of Jack Daniels, my only comfort at night. So here I sit. A veteran. Sitting on the streets of the country that I fought for. And this cardboard sign, “I Fought for You. Hear my story.” Many people have. And the story I tell you now, is the story I tell, over and over again. WIth this, the police officer stares, first at me, then my coat. He is here to tell me to leave. He heard my story. He looks at the cement. A single tear, drops and hits the grey. A tear. A tear, like the one I saw in Vietnam. Then, I look more closely at the officer’s face, and say, “Allen?” It is him. The soldier who I saw fell a single tear on foreign soil. In Vietnam. He smiles, gets up, and says, “You can stay. You should be able to at least sit in the country you served.” The he goes to the trunk of his car, and pulls out a blanket. He throws it to me. And then, goes into his car, and writes something on a pad of paper. He opens the door, walks over, and drops a few coins, and the note, into the Dunkin Donuts cup that sits in front of me. He then stands up, and says “stay warm captain.” And with that he walks over, enters his car, and drives off. I open his letter, and it reads, “Guts, Blood, No Glory.”






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