By Keith D. Rodebush, Contributor for US Daily Review.
“Hold the line!” the Sargeant yelled confidently. The early morning sun was low on the horizon. The fog hung low in the valley before us. Birds were oblivious to the carnage ahead and sang their morning songs incessantly. The dew was heavy on the grass under foot. My eye caught some movement in the tree line just ahead of us. The enemy was right there, less than 300 yards away. Young men much as me. Doing their duty, following orders, preparing to die for their cause; as I was ready to. “Check your ammo gentlemen.” the Sargeant bellowed. My hand instinctively fell to my side and felt the ammo pouch. My friend to my right was breathing so heavily as to distract me. The morning breeze agitated the flag and provided a cadence of flapping noise. Suddenly, a distant voice commanded the men in the tree line to advance. Tree trunks came alive and became men marching forward towards us. The adrenaline surged in my body and I thought that I might pass out. There were so many of them! Dat, datty atty att; the drums marked the movement. “Ready!” the Sargeant wailed. “Forward, march!” We moved forward in unison without a thought. Step. Step. Step. Each step bringing us closer to the enemy line marching towards us. We closed within 100 yards of the massive line of soldiers in front of us. “Ready, Halt!”. “Ready Arms!” The noise of 1000 soldiers bringing their arms to shoulder cascaded along our line. The enemy line continued to march forward monolithically like zombies. “Prepare to fire!” The Sargeant’s voice was clearly urgent. I can see the face of the soldier in front of me. He seems to be a child! Such a sweet baby face on a battlefield bearing arms. I aim at center mass, my mind exploding with thoughts that do not fit my situation. ‘Does his mother know he’s here?’ ‘Does he know who he is fighting for?’ ‘Does he have a girl back home?’ The enemy line continues to advance without pause. My trepidation turns to fear. They are getting too close! What if I miss? What if he kills me instead of me killing him? “Aim!”…..”Fire!” the Seargents command is followed by a thunderous noise of multiple gunshot. Numerous men in the line of the enemy ahead buckle and fall. My man shudders and stumbles but continues advancing. I missed! Frantically I begin to reload. “Reload” the Seargant belatedly commands. The distant commands of the enemy NCO’s is hardly distinguishable. A plethora of smoke precedes a volley of shot tearing through our lines. Zinging bullets whiz past my ears and the muted thud of impact into flesh is heard all around. My friend to my right stops momentarily then drops to his knees. As I glance over to him I see a mass of tissue above his left ear where his skull used to be. His eyes wide, his mouth agape, he falls forward limp and lifeless. A sense of urgency infuses my loading process. “Prepare to fire!” the Seargant yells. “Fire!” The second volley is more sporadic as the troops lose precision in the chaos. Numerous men in the enemy line fall in place. The two lines have now closed within 30 yards of each other. “Fix bayonets!” the order is given. The clicking of the blades snapping in place echo down the line. The enemy returns a second volley of fire upon our lines. I feel a warmth in my left side and look down to see the blood soaking my shirt almost immediately. Without regard I complete my bayonet attachment. The screaming of the wounded now invades my brain like a storm. “Prepare to charge……CHARGE!!” the Seargants command is almost lost in the chaos of the moment. Gutteral screams are heard up and down the line. I engage the man in front of me with violent purpose, deflecting his thrust and hitting him in the head with the butt of my rifle. The soft thud of wood making contact with skull is sickening and pleasing in the same moment. I don’t even pause as I move on to the next man within my sight. Suddenly a movement catches my eye and I turn just in time to see the blade slashing downwards from my left. A bright light flashes in my mind as I fall to the ground. Warm blood gushes from my throat soaking my entire front in seconds. A blur is before me as I fall to the ground. The clamorous noise fades slowly into a whisper. All I see above me now is the sun shining bright in a tunnel of vision with darkness closing in on the perimeter. Noise disappears and time stops as I witness the last moments of light as the tunnel closes in around me. Inexplicably my mothers voice rings in my head. “Why do you go to war, Johnny? Why?” “For Liberty.” I say. “For Liberty….”
Such is the fate and the story of so many good people before you. They sacrificed their very lives in horrific conditions just so you can go into a booth and pick whomever you choose to lead this nation. Shall you diminish their sacrifice by pulling the lever only for the one whom you believe to be the winner? For your own selfish satisfaction? Or will you honor their lives…and their deaths, by cherishing your vote; and casting it for the one candidate who most closely reflects your principles and values? Eternal shame awaits the one whose vote is frivolous. Damnation be thy fate for the insincere. Read this the night before you vote. Put yourself in that young mans shoes. Smell the gunpowder, hear the deafening noise of sporadic gunshot, feel the blood running down your side, see the bloody face of your dead friend. Then, you will be ready to cast your most precious vote. Let it not be diminished by such frivolity as human emotion.