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Published:May 15th, 2009 19:37 EST
Silence:  For those who have lived this and survived

Silence: For those who have lived this and survived

By Ed Roberts

Silence

 

On his nineteenth birthday

He sits in his bedroom

High school is over now

Flipping burgers pays enough to buy clothes

And makes the payments on the car

But he doesn`t see how he could pay for an apartment

And he REALLY can`t see living here with his parents

While he tries to go to college

His best friend, James

Planted the seed in his head a few months ago

Money for school

Free food

Free rent

A chance to travel

A chance to be a MAN

He gets up out of his bed

Throws on some of his nicest clothes

And three hours later

Sits in an office taking his first set of tests

One week later

He takes the oath

And is sworn in as a Marine

 

Marine Corps recruit training is tough for him

This is an understatement

He realizes how out of shape his body really is

But he`s not the only one

Everything is laid out

The drills

The PT

The combat water survival

The confidence course

The marksmanship and field training

Each a different challenge

Each makes him a bit stronger

He makes it through the Crucible

Ranked in the top of his class

Before he realizes it, this part of training is over

From boot to hat

He is all Marine

 

Iraq is his first deployment

Twelve months away from home

He has never been away from home that long

Of course he`s never left the country before either

This is what he`d signed up for

Mentally and physically he was ready

And maybe at this point

He was

 

The fighting isn`t the hardest part

That is easy

People shoot at you

You shoot back

Hopefully you have better guns and more of them

Most of the time

This is the case

The seventy pounds of gear doesn`t make it easy

And of course

The heat makes it always worse

But the fighting never seems to bother him

The hours

The moments in between always do

 

Every face, every person is a potential enemy

Even kids can leave IED`s at the side of the road

He lost a friend of his last week that way

He won`t be so careless

Or so he hopes

 

At the end of the eleventh month his body reaches its limit

Long hours on patrol

Less fighting

Less engagements, though the threat is still there

Less hours of sleep

The nightmares come more often

Night after night the same

Voices screaming inside his head

Still there`s only one more month

One more month until twelve back at home

Then the news comes   

Three months more to wait

He packs it all inside

He`s a Marine

He does what he has to do and survives

Analyze, improvise, and overcome

This is his motto

Like so many others

He does his time

 

The day finally comes

As he gets on the plane to leave this place

This Hell that has haunted him for so long

He raises a finger in defiance

Others behind him do the same

Yes, they are all Marines

 

He`s been home eleven months now

Still the nightmares haunt his sleep

Voices speak to him from empty rooms

He often sleeps on the sofa

Hoping not to wake his new wife

He started therapy a month ago

They can work through this the doctor assures him

And of course the pills seem to help

Most of the time

 

It`s Monday

He goes out to the porch for the mail

The temperature seems to drop at least ten degrees

When he sees it

He shakes as he opens the letter

He had heard this might be coming

But he hoped since he was still under treatment

It might not

He goes inside and starts laying out his plans

He deploys for the second tour the next week

 

They told him his treatment would continue

They promised him there would be plenty of pills

Those ran out last month

Still the nightmares torture his nights

But now they continue even through the day

He tells all of those who will listen

Everything`s going to be fine " is always their answer

When there is an answer at all

 

His platoon walks into an ambush

Snipers laid out on both flanks

His friend next to him is hit in the shoulder

And screams into his ear

Blood splatters everywhere

He stands up and with a soft voice

Starts a final prayer

He prays they are as good a shot as he is

Seconds later his prayers are answered

And finally he gets the one thing he has sought after

And prayed for

For so long

Silence

 

An ocean away

Another Marine sits at home

Alone in a dark room

He hasn`t slept for seven days

The voices in his head won`t stop talking

Won`t stop screaming

He finally drives himself to the hospital

Lays everything out to the doctor

With tears in his eyes

The Marine begs for help

 

After some quick tests

And hours of waiting

The doctor returns

He tells him he needs rest

And hands him a prescription to take home

As he leave the room

The doctor jots down a final note on his file

Not a danger to self, or to others "

 

Hours later the Marine finally stops his car

The police have been chasing him for five miles

Ninety miles and hour the wrong way on the highway

He steps out of the vehicle

Slowly lowers himself to his knees

Raises his hands above his head

And begs the officers to either cuff him or shoot him

Before he can hurt any of them

He begs them for the one thing he can not find

 

Silence

 

Written for those who have lived this and survived and in remembrance for those who did not. Through my tears I will bleed words for you hoping that through them others will come to understand.