To all that have served and all that have sacrificed, thank you.
This was sent to me and is being reprinted with permission. It’s somewhere between an essay and poetry. Written by Sahar Rohani, a 13 year old in eighth grade.
Imagine. You’re in a staring contest with death, and in the painful grasp of fear, about to die. You peer at the bloodstained earth. Bodies cover the ground. You can’t tell the men apart. Parts of soldiers melt with others. The blank canvas of the Afghanistan desert are now painted red with blood, grey with smoke, brown with dust, and black with fear. The picture comes to life but the sound is muted. You barely make out the barking orders of officers on both sides leading their men into uncertainty. Suddenly, your ears pick up deafening screams of desperation. Cries for mercy intermingled with victory echo in a strange language all at once. It is hard to differentiate between the two.
You breathe, but air is hard to take in. Your lungs are tight. You don’t realize it, but they are failing you. But war doesn’t care. War does not forgive. It does not give second chances. The battle ensues creating a maze of destruction filled rage. Your heart is slowing down and nearly breaks as you see your brother next to you. His heart beat has come to an end, along with his past memories and a future of unfulfilled accomplishments. He will never see his newborn daughter.
What is left? What do you have? One leg? An arm? Does it matter? Your best friend has been ripped from your side, your brother face down in the sand. You spit grit and fire in anger. Life is lost, and so are you. It feels like days, but its only moments. Once it is over, the most painful part of it all is the silence. The silence is so overwhelming it deafens you. It becomes the black hole that swallows you. There will never be a ‘normal’ again. Dead or alive, you are a changed person. The tattered remains of your past life mock you with words unsaid, love unspoken, promises broken and the big picture of life looks dim.
Time slows. Can you hear it? No, you hear nothing. First the light blinds you, then a powerful thrust pierces your skin, but you feel no pain. Your ears ring until they bleed and silence overtakes you again.
A blinding light and tremendous shock followed by a sense of utter weakness…. You succumb unwilling, for war has no prisoners. You fall to the ground and take your final breaths. Will anyone remember what you did? What you fought for? The oath and the depths you had to endure to protect this country? Your pupils dilate and you see the light. Death is near. You have no regrets.
You leave this earth with purpose. You bring honor and loyalty to a country that fights for freedom, democracy and peace. You are the glue that holds us together, our strength when this nation is weak. You are our hope when this country is in doubt, and lift us out of our remorse when all is lost. You give us a reason to live with perseverance and greatness because your courage in desperate times represents what kind of nation America really is and that is why I am here to represent you. No matter how many unknown soldiers there are in the Arlington National Cemetery, each and every single one of them has a story, and a family that had to bear the loss of their beloved son or daughter. I am here to be their unheard voice, because a voice is what they deserve.
To risk your life for freedom takes courage, to die a death for the freedom of others requires the ultimate noble sacrifice. It is our duty as Americans to acknowledge and honor the gift of life freely given to us by these unknown soldiers that enables us the opportunity to enjoy our freedom and provide a blank canvas that allows future generations to live in the home of the free and the land of the brave.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers is not a place of death and sadness but a place of honor and respect for their sacrifice. They live on in the lives of our unborn hopes and dreams. To all those unnamed and unknown, thank you. You will never be forgotten.