There I was, out at sea listening to the fire of machine guns and shells exploding. But those days of the war were over, well at least for me. There was thunder above us and an occasional flash of lightning. The howl of the wind sprayed water in my face or maybe it was the rain. There were others there, on the boat. Hundreds of young american soldiers waiting to go home. Some talking, others as silent as the grave. But all with one thought, how did I survive? I was one of them. I still could hear the fire of machine guns or maybe I was just imagining them. Whatever the case was, the war had certainly influenced my life in a big way.
I still remember the worst part of the war. It wasn’t the gas chambers that killed millions of Jews. Or seeing a hundred million american soldiers getting killed. It was losing my best friend in the fight for the Normandy Beach. It was a few weeks ago but I can still remember every bit of it. Three machine guns, mowing down american soldiers one at a time. They gave us no chance, not even a chance to fire back. I was crying now. Just the thought of Paul dying was just too much for my heart to handle. A soldier must have seen me and waded over. I saw him in the corner of my eye and tried to wipe of as much tears as I could, sadly it was not enough. He came over and crouched down next to me and said in a sympathetic way, “I know what you have experienced, its not easy believe me I know. By the way my name is Jim”.
I managed to smile a small smile. “Hey Jim, I’m Tom”.
“You lost someone too in the Normandy landing too huh?” he said in a calm, soothing voice.
“Yeah, My best friend”.
“My brother”. He had tears in his eyes too. I kept quiet for a long time and I could see what war had done to him. I could see flashbacks appear right in front of me. The sand is a pale yellow with very few rocks and the tide is at the lowest point. There are mines on the beach too but no one knows that. I could see Paul now, running across the beach shouting and cursing under his breath. He would occasionally fire a few rounds of his rifle. He is screaming at me now. His hand movement implies he wants me to move up. Then, a flash. I shut my eyes to avoid damage and lay flat on my stomach with my hands on my helmet. When I open my eyes, Paul is lying on the sand with his eyes staring straight at me. Suddenly, I was back to reality tears were streaking down my face and this time I couldn’t stop. There was a message on the loud speaker saying we will be arriving soon. I picked up a cigarette out of its pack and lit it. The smoke covered my vision as I looked back to the distant shores of Normandy.