View from the trenches

By July 9, 20162016, Europe

I’m standing there, in the trenches at Vimy, in the place that many have stood before me, fighting. I close my eyes and try to put myself in their shoes but it’s hard. I try to block out the sound of people talking and laughing and the birds singing all around me. I really try to imagine it from where they were. It’s hard to picture myself in their place; I’m not a soldier, but neither were they really. They were boys, many of them younger than me. They would be standing there with water up to their knees and bugs and rats running all around them. The sound of birds and people would be replaced with gunshots and bombs going off all around them, the sounds of people yelling, and screaming in pain. The enemy is a stone’s throw away and could kill them at any moment. You can never get any sleep no matter how hard you try and the realization that you never will again. Even when you get home the nightmares will keep you awake or you’ll jump at the sound of a car backfiring or hearing some kids playing video games will take you right back to that trench. I open my eyes and it all goes away. I’m still there in the trench but it is far different. I’m there with my friends talking, there’s grass and trees and flowers and birds singing and flying above. I open my eyes and I know I never have to do that, I never have to experience what they went through. There is a peace and calmness in knowing that but at the same time I am saddened by the realization that while I never have to go through that, they can never get out of it. Even after they are back home and safe they are haunted by it day and night and I realize how lucky I really am.

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