04 Jul Elevation of American Freedom
Flashes of light through the dark on a clear night sky wakes you from the daze you were in just a few moments earlier waiting for the inevitable. There is no preparation in the world that can bring you calm from within, knowing what is to come. The best you can do at that moment is to rely on your training, while saying a quick prayer to the higher power you believe in is the only hope you know. The fear is real, but the strength comes to the surface like a balloon on a wind free day rising beyond sight in the sky.
Your instincts kick in as all thoughts of your family and friends disappear. Your grip on the trigger either gets tighter or looser. The braveness demonstrated in that moment is beyond anything a civilian will ever experience. The kill or be kill feeling is real. The thought of death is real, but the fire from within to stand up in the face of adversity is silencing to all movements around you. You snap into action and with one breathe in, the next exhale is the trigger squeeze with a three round burst sent down range toward the enemy.
During training there is always a pop up dummy or figure you are aiming at. In the heat of battle those bullets that come out of the barrel are going towards a real target. Likewise, the training that the enemy has whether good, bad or indifferent will rip through you with the same vengeance. All of those late nights going over strategy in this moment seem like a distant memory. All of the blood, sweat and tears from basic training and advanced training or from one of the academies across the branches, now seem like a cake walk compared to the heat that is burning in your chest.
You stop to wipe the sweat off your brow and you catch a glimpse of the American Flag on your shoulder. The flag represents a place that is safe and beautiful in your mind. Regardless of the location of your childhood, you have stories and a history of events that each individual holds near and dear to their heart. This symbol of freedom is like a power source so strong that you begin to calm yourself down as you survey the surroundings for an opportunity to be extraordinary.
As the fireworks pop around you as the fourth of July celebration begins, you are snapped back into the present. Your heart begins to slow down and you realize that there is no threat. You served your country proudly and you survived. A piece of your soul was left down range when you boarded the military plane to take you home. The scars of war are deep. However, the hope for peace is all around when you look into the faces of those you love, and those complete strangers that are unaware of what has been seen in a place far away from the comfort of their piece of land we all call home in the United States.