You put me on this hill at 19 with a weapon and said defend you.
And I did.
You put me in a jet plane at 25 armed with rockets that kill from miles away.
And I used them.
At 27 from a bomber miles high and I dropped the weapons; from a console buried underground watching a screen and a grey explosion as my drone attacked.
Do you feel safe?
Felt the blood spurt from my leg, fell now unbalanced as the mine beneath me ripped the earth and left me in pieces.
What do you say to my lover now?
How much more do you want from me after I have given you my time, my expertise and my life?
The parades continue, bands loud and brassy march on.
Don’t praise me for my service or my courage that I had no choice to display, or die; don’t use me as a reason to declare that enemies exist; they say the same about us.
Don’t praise me for protecting our freedoms when, if it suits you, you’d take them away.
I did not survive for you, but for my brothers, for the sweet kiss that lingered on dark nights, for the touch of your hand and the sweet music of your voice.
I did not survive so that you can make another war; I did not survive so that you could send the children holding the balloons along the parade route to fight against other unseen children.
I did not survive so that hatred reigns or to hear you say there is no choice; someone must be the first.
Wars end, exhausted; the conflicts retreat, simmering.
I did not survive to only do it again.
I did not survive.