On this Veterans Day, I’m reminded of a cold, dreary January morning when I wandered over the frozen ground in a forest in Luxembourg, the hushed voices of fallen soldiers whispering in my ear, begging me not to forget them. An unbearable chill settled into my bones, a shiver striking me between the shoulder blades when I heard the crunching sound of iron-shod boots behind me. Heavy boots. The same sound an American soldier would have heard during the long siege of the Battle of the Bulge that took place here during the freezing winter of 1944-45 in World War II.
The enemy. Ready to strike him down.
Was there no greater fear?
But today the boots belonged to my guide, a wizened old man with a pipe settled between his thin lips as he pointed out where different parts of the battle took place. I never forgot my tour of the battlefield then later the memorial site, where rows of white crosses mark the graves of fallen American soldiers, as well as the gravestone marker where General George S. Patton is buried. I also visited a similar field down the road where wooden German crosses mark the burial place of their dead. Snowflakes drifted down from the gray sky overhead in a peaceful pattern, scurrying from one marker to another before settling on the graves. It made no difference whether those graves were Allied or Axis. They were fallen soldiers.
War is hell.
Our military men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan know that same fear, day in and day out. No wonder when they have a few moments to relax, they catch up on emails from home. They also like to read. Books have a way of taking the soldier’s mind off from his fear, his pain, his loneliness. And that’s where we can help. Send books to our fighting men and women overseas.
Jina Bacarr is currently working on an erotic fiction novel set during World War II about a cabaret dancer who becomes a spy.