Honoring those who've faced war's horror

Echoes from the Grave

   Beneath the pale moonlight there lies a lonely piece of hallowed ground, its surface supporting uncounted rows of cold, white markers. Inscribed on the surface of these stones is a name, rank and date. There is never enough room to tell of the courage, the suffering, the fear and the loneliness that precedes the pain of death. For beneath these stone markers lie the forgotten ghosts of all wars.
   Even when the burning chariot completes its journey across the evening skies and the moon quietly rises to take its place, each stone on that sacred ground will begin to glimmer under the moons' soft melt. Then, in the embrace of the dark, purple night, those unremembered gravestones will begin to pulsate with the frantic rhythm of a frenzied heart. For beneath the bowels of the earth a bugle calls; a drum beats to quarters.
   Weapons are held tightly in eager, sweating hands, as soldiers wearing various uniforms race to face the enemy. High above the seas of taut faces a blood soiled cloth is raised to the heavens the brightest of stars, and pieces of blue skies attach themselves to this unbridled symbol, creating the red, white and blue of the Stars and Stripes.
   Are we, the living, prepared to forget the ultimate sacrifice made by the men and women of this nation? Take a moment from your lives and stand silently between those pitifully marked stones and smell the burning gun powder and the acrid bit of cordite.
   Listen to the screams of the wounded and dying. Listen to your heart, as an enemy tank lunges in your direction. Flinch in fear and fall to the ground as a shell whistles over your cringing head. Burn with a terrified pilot as his plane falls helpless towards the unyielding earth. Leap into the seas as your ship sinks with a metallic groan into the blood-filled waters of a distant ocean. Hold tight to your dying buddy, as his blood seeps into your muddy pants.
   There beneath each and every stone lies a heroic ghost, who made that ultimate sacrifice for his country.
   There are no cowards on the great fields battle and when the drums and bugles stop, the ghost of all wars will proclaim:
   "They were intrepid. Their cause was great. They gave more than just their lives. The gave the born and the unborn a heritage that will live forever under the undaunted threads of the Stars and Stripes that waves so proudly over the greatest nation on earth."
   Written by Robert E. McHaney, VFW Post #4108, Redmond, OR