So Far From Home

".Did you see them going off to fight?

Children of the barricade

Who didn't last the night."

The boys. Never will I forget those faces. Never will I forget the tears as our boys, our kin, left our borders to help fight a war that wasn't theirs. Never will I forget the sound of falling footsteps as they left, the silence broken only by the sobbing around us, and the breeze stirring the leaves in the trees. When will those boys feel the north wind on their faces again? When again, if ever, will they feel the summer grass beneath bare toes, smell the morning dew, see the sun rise and paint the clouds like no artist ever could? When will they hear the tender voices of their lovers, or the compassion of their mothers, or the praise of their brother?

Never, not if I live to see the end of this world, will I forget them. Not their faces, fair and merry from youth, nor their eyes, full of understanding. Taking in everything, one last time, knowing they might never again see the land they leave tonight. They know, and still they march off. No one looks back, no one cries out; the march is silent, and yet you know they cry inside. Cry for the life they leave behind, cry for what is lost forever. Each one looks ahead, and the last picture we will ever see of them is of heads covered by the hoods of cloaks, bows on their backs, standing in a proud, determined way.

Never shall I forget them, each and every one of them, for who they were. Some were talented artists, others skilled craftsmen. Each of them possessing their own unique talents, each marching to the same fate - war. These boys had been trained for combat; they knew what awaited them on the battlements. Knew there would be bloodshed, knew they would watch their comrades die. And knew in their hearts that they would die with them, if the time came.

But still, though I have seen many wars in my life, I feel I do not understand it. Why these boys, too young still to be considered men, should march off to what will certainly be their death, when they should live many long years in this wood. Why they must look to their leader for their only support, when he must need support himself.

War cannot be the only answer. There is nothing to be gained, but much to be lost on both sides. There is only death, and for those who do not die before the sun rises, the prospect of more with the coming of the dawn. Death, and heartache for those left behind. For the mothers who will never know what happened to their sons, for the girls who will never again see their love. It cannot be worth the pain. Nothing can be worth that kind of pain.

Never shall I forget this night, when our boys marched off to fight and die so far from home in a war that was not theirs. Never shall I forget the faces of each one, the sound of fading footsteps in the gloom, the taste of my own tears; tears that are cried for them, because their own tears are un-spilled. Never shall I forget the pain I felt for each one, and for those who stayed with me here. Never shall I forget tonight, nor the dawn that came after it, which so many of those boys did not live to see.

".Did you see them lying where they died?

Someone used to cradle them and kiss them when they cried

Did you see them lying side by side?."