Since I only have a select number of readers I guess I can post some real journal stuff. This has only been read by one other person till now… so…here it is for the world to see


 


“A Fallen Stone”


 


It is raining softly on the black umbrellas gathered in close proximity. The grey overcast sky seems to compliment the black of veils, dresses, and suits. The reds, whites, and blues draped across a coffin provide the only contrast to the otherwise somber colors. There is no eye contact, only the blank of stares.  Some cry, but a few stand tall providing a sense of hope just by maintaining posture.  As the trumpet fades, the crack of seven rifles erupts, then again, and again.  The brass of a spent round ejected from the chamber lies smoking on the wet ground. White gloves begin folding the flag, and arms are presented in homage to the dead, the faces void of all expression except in the depths of their eyes where every tender pain of mourning can be seen. Whose is this vision? Mine? Is this to be the closing chapter on a life lived? Or a story left tragically unfinished, its end cut short by death? Often times I contemplate my own end. It is not a healthy habit, but the inevitability of it fascinates me.


 Last summer, I stood in formation with hundreds of other high school juniors, all hopefuls for the West Point Class of 2010. Unlike the countless other formations I had stood in throughout the week, this one was different.  There was this Colonel, older, slightly wrinkled, but broad and built like a brick wall, the kind of soldier that epitomizes army values.  He was the type that had been there and back again, and had the look to motivate the idlest of idlers. The quiet observing type, careful never to interfere with the cadet-lead activities unless necessary. And here he was now, he had climbed to the top of those Hudson granite steps that overlooked us all and stood us at attention.


“Early this morning, in Tikrit, Iraq, Captain Esposito, Class of ’97, was killed in the line of duty…,” I squinted through the sun, and I saw a man broken, the tears filled his eyes as if it had been his own son. Maybe he was– maybe we all were. It seemed like every death took a little piece of his heart, and it occurred to me that he was not just crying for Captain Esposito, but for all soldiers everywhere, past, present, and for us—the future. The Colonel pulled on his beret, wiped his eyes, and walked away.


            In ancient wars, warriors, before going into battle, would each put a stone into a pile, on returning they would grab their stones, and however many were left, were the number of dead. West Point has adopted this into tradition and any graduate or faculty member going on deployment will leave behind a stone. These stones can be found by the Chapel, Patton’s statue, just about anywhere on post. I wondered which one had belonged to Captain Esposito, then I wondered which stone would be my own.


The youth are supposed to feel immortal. And in many ways I do. My thoughts of death always seem to encompass the joys of living. Both constitute the same thought for me. I have dreams of passionate love and breathe-taking adventures just like any other young man embarking into life. I believe I am different, unstoppable, and never going to grow old. If ever there were a dreamer, it is me. But, I quiver at the possibility of never seeing such dreams. The profession of arms assures that growing old is anything but an assurance. But I am not alone, I walk hand in hand with thousands of others just like myself, their lives belong to me and mine to theirs. 


Maybe the romantic in me will be attributed to naivety in the passing of years, then again maybe I won’t live that long. See, it is not so much the fear of death that I fear, but to die knowing you never truly lived. The idea that somehow it was “not supposed to end like that” is knife slashes to my gut. Basically I have come to believe that the more life you live, the more it justifies your passing. “Drink, for tomorrow we die…”


For CPT Esposito, his wife and, at the time, 18 month old daughter that must live on, he was not the first, nor will he be the last. I think the Colonel knew this, that many others, possibly one of us bright eyed juniors, would meet the same fate wearing the same pair of boots. Even though I never knew him, he is family, and on that morning in June, I along with the rest of my family cried for the passing of a brother.


 

One Response to “”

  1. worm1865 says:

    deep man. thanks again for the CD you don’t know how much that has helped me this week. number 21 i really like about getting out of our hometown. ttyl.

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