By: Keira Kroft
Memorial Day May 27: 1991
Jordy Smith sat on the edge of his bed on an insanely hot and humid morning, clutching his silver star. His dad was firing up the coals on the barbeque. Jordy loved the smell of lighter fluid splattered across the charcoal. He could see his mom scurrying around the kitchen, she started chopping up onions and fresh garlic and gathering her other ingredients.
His family had a Memorial Day barbeque, rain or shine since Jordy was Five years old. He couldn’t help but wonder… If people really knew what happened when you went away to war, they wouldn’t barbeque and drink beer in memory of the soldiers, would they? If they only understood...
He rubbed the smooth metal between his fingers.
“Jordy could you take out the garbage? People will be here in about an hour,” his mother spewed quickly in her southern twang. He missed life being as simple as, being too lazy to take out the garbage. While he was away in Kuwait he was asked to do things…despicable things. If you were lazy, you died.
“In a minute mom,” he shouted.
She stuck her head in his room, “Sweetie are you okay?” she asked wiping her hands on her apron.
He looked up at her warm eyes and chocolate brown hair. “Yeah, I just need a minute. It is a memorial day, after all.”
“Oh, of course you left friends behind.”
So many ghosts. He clutched the star tighter. “Yeah, I did.”
She disappeared from the doorway. His mind went to the beginning. There were no jobs, of course he got into a little trouble and barely finished high school. The military gave him a way out and money. He never thought a war would break out, never in a million years.
Even with news of the war he was still so proud of himself, he came through his training with flying colors, he was in good shape and he grew up a little too. He had just been coming into his own with the ladies, when he had been called to serve in another country.
His pride never left him on the trip there or even when his mama wailed in anguish, because he was leaving. He promised Mama, he would be back in one piece and by God, he would. He Promised.
The first few days, where just hot. He hadn’t ever wanted water so much in his life as he did out there in that hot dessert, it was a deep thirst that ached from the depths of his belly. The equipment he carried around was extremely heavy. I’m hot tired and hungry and I can’t stand this heat. He cracked open the container and sucked out the last few drops of water, but it wasn’t enough. He shared a bunk with several other men. They were just as miserable as he was, but at least that had each other and they had their pride.
Ripped from a sound sleep, his heart raced, his palms sweated, his gut churned, he shook. Up and dressed with a rifle in his hand before he knew it; he was a true soldier now. His instincts took over. As the first one awake, he ran outside their hut, there was fire in the sky and bullets reigning down on him. He got in position, pulling on the trigger, shooting one person after another like a video game, only it wasn’t, these were real people. Their lives where ending and Jordy was in hell.
Later, he would be rewarded with a silver star for bravery. After all he did, it didn’t matter, his friends died when a rocket hit their hut, blowing it into tiny pieces of flesh and bone. He was the only one left, maybe the only one in the entire village. Had he not gone outside, he would have been killed. They all died and he survived and was considered a hero. He was not brave; piss in the pants scared was what he was.
His trip down memory lane ended and reality was sinking in. He was really home in his bed on Memorial Day asking himself again, if regular folk really knew what war was like, would they still eat, drink beer and raise their glasses in the air to the bravery of the military? Yes. If they really understood, they would be so grateful for the men and woman that step into battle so that they don’t have to be ripped from their beds at night, by shouting, gunfire and explosions. So thankful in fact, that they would dance in the streets every day in celebration.
Jordy’s mind couldn’t imagine anymore, complete and total reality was set in, now. There was no holiday barbeque like he imagined or guests, just his father pacing back and forth and his mother sobbing. “Mama it’s time,” he tried to turn his head but the pain from the cancer was too excruciating, the drugs weren’t helping anymore. Jordy was exposed to a chemical in Kuwait, that turned into pancreatic cancer that spread through his body like wildfire, the only reason he was home in in own bed, was to die. He would have much preferred to stay and fight and die the quick soothing death of a bullet to his head, not feeling his gut being eaten away. His mom grabbed his hand, feeling the metal star. She gently pinned it to the collar of his pajamas. “You’re the bravest man I have ever known, son.” Reduced to a puddle of tears, she gripped his hand tightly.
“Don’t, die son, fight, you’re a fighter, don’t…” his mother pleaded.
He wished he could answer, but his soul was now gone from his body.
Jordy Smith is a figment of the author’s imagination, mixed with research and knowledge from friends who served in the gulf war.
To soldiers everywhere, from the depths of my heart, I thank you!
The following poem was written about Sergeant Franklin Dennis Winters by his mother and is a real life depiction from a broken hearted woman.
Memorial Day - 1991
By Susan Winters
As the sun rises, so do I,
to prepare to do what I have traveled so far to do.
What I love to do... but at the same time hating it.
To enter those hallowed grounds in search of you my son.
Walking alone among the pathways worn brown from those other mother before me.
I search for that small black section marker that means.....
I'm getting closer............ and closer.......................
as I turn..........................
and walk to the hill where I've been before.
All around me, on all sides,
as far as I can see is the sameness,
the quiet beauty of hillside graves
marked with stones of granet:
Flags.......unending flags waving in the morning breeze.
On I walk, hurrying to this place of pain and pride where I'm compelled to go.
Following this path to the end of your life...
my life too son, at least in my heart.
For when you died, so did I.
The tears begin to run down my face as I'm there....
standing there looking at your name....
I touch it and run my fingers across it.
I'm with you again if only for a short while.
Then without thinking I sit down with you....
Thru my tears I pick a clover off your grave and save it.
The red rose I've carried I place on the green grass around the stone that claims you as mine.
People come and go all around me, but I'm undisturbed.
I belong here........with you !
Written in loving memory of Sergeant Franklin Dennis Winters by his mother.
May we never forget the sacrifices made by our military forces, whether in be in war or in peace.
Also known as:
Keira Kroft, Romantic Suspense