Once I was worn by an average man
he fought bravely in two wars
he did not understand the cause
but faithful he answered a call to arms
One war he fought for France
his parents actually never knew
he signed while a student of Sorbonne
young men do what they have to do
the unlikely are pinned as heros
awarded the Croix de Guerre
by those he chose to defend
untold stories of bravery there
Then call to arms another War
No need to fight again
reveille dawned at Normandy
honor required duty of every man
Today in tribute to all the artists, writers, musicians, and poets who served their country for freedom. This story though fictional in nature is based on recalled accounts of the astounding bravery of men. The man I am constructing the story around actually won two medals in separate wars. I wish I knew all of his story but what I know was pieced together by stories I heard from his daughter, my patient, who had dementia. The Croix de Guerre his medal for bravery.
I am the bronze representation of the heart of bravery. “Bravery” it’s such a paltry word for a human’s willingness to make the up most sacrifice for another, for a cause, for the heartbeat of freedom to continue. I proudly rode upon the chest of such a man as this. “Brave” he would scoff at the word when others would toast his courage. I was not there the first time; I was still neatly packaged waiting in a box. What he did wasn’t brave; it was insane! Men were the equivalent to carnage on a field of blood that day; Flowers will never grow there again. It was dusk. The smoke and stench choked the strongest of men pulling out from the bowels the remnants of any unpalatable tin flavored repast. He looked out and for a moment he saw a specter; his commander who that morning had led a sortie. All had seemingly died in one momentary plume that drove earth, gear, men, and blood into the morning’s sky.” Captain” he whispered as he clamoured out of the foxhole into imminent danger. “Noooo” his buddy choked a dry, throttled cry. “There is too much to live for don’t die!.” He was gone into” no man’s land”and no one could saw the heroism he rallied forth. Captain Murdock fell into his arms; his face gaping with unbelief. Dragging the captain back to the foxhole, he beckoned for unseen hands. Depositing the Captain, he rushed back into the dark cloud pulling man after man back to the place they called “home.” “Idiot,” was the enemy’s thought as he fired. Shots rang abount his ears, one pinged off an already scarred bucket of a helmet; one or two struck him in the arm,ut he kept on whispering “Father let this be your finest hour.” It was! When the tally was taken at the end of the day, the score was enemy 2 victors 12. Two men had been blown sky-high, macerated body pieces was all that was left. The blast had propelled the others from the epicenter of destruction. None could gather their bearings nor find their way back to safety. My master suffered pain from the two bullets in his arm until the day he died, but he lived to wear me. The others each went on to victories of their own – all survived to tell the story of one brave young American student from the Sorbonne who was studying French Literature. “A quiet taciturn sort of man” they stated. They would have laughed at the most unlikely type soldier, hero, but who could laugh at such a man?
I along with my twin heard many tales of bravery amongst brother medals. I was there the day that the words “let this be your finest hour” were spoken again. I couldn’t believe this man hadn’t learned from the war to end all wars. But here we were with more carnage and decay in a second war that would end all wars or life as we knew it. That day my master sprung into his action barring the way to death’s reaper for more than a dozen young men who had followed him onto the beach at Normandy. Casualties were all about his feet,but he pushed and pushed further to knock out a viper’s nest that was putting holes in boys who could barely shave.
Because of my master, children were born and saw the light of new day who never would have been born. Grandchildren laughed on grandpappies knees and another generation waved the banner against injustice because of brave men like my master who in a moment made the decision to die that other might live.
And so my family Le Croix de Guerre and I raise a toast to each man and woman who has served to make my world and yours a place where children are born to see the blue skies of another day.
Photograph; “Le Croix de Guerre” copyright L. Moon 2010