“You’re becoming a man.” Said Marcus’s Father. “I’m proud of you for doing your part for your country..”
“Of course dad, You fought the Germans in the Great War. You did what you had to to stop the Kaiser. How is this any different?”
“Hmph. Do you even know what we’re fighting for?”
“We’re fighting to give the people over in Europe a chance to be free from Hitler and his Nazis.?”
“I never stopped fighting Jack. Bullies are always bullies and if you don’t stop them, they just grow more and more powerful.” Then his dad grew serious. “Marcus, I don’t wish this on you. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”
“What’re you trying to say Dad?”
“Marcus, I know you need to go over there. It’s part of who we are. We do the work that needs doing. I just don’t want you to go to war. When you get- if you get back, you’ll understand.”
“If I get back? What kind of talk is that?”
“The truth. Marcus, I can’t tell you how many men I met and fought with and against who didn’t come home. Some of them just killed by mud, choking slow mud like quicksand that took days to kill a man. On top of that there was the gas attacks, the giant guns and every other means men could think of the kill each other and grind him under their boot heels. Do you know the maddest, craziest thing about war? Each one of us thought he was coming home.”
“Well dad, you just told me why I have to go then. I have to go to stand up to those bullies and do my best to make sure those guys get home.”
It was at that point that Marcus’s father extended his hand and Marcus shook it for the first time as a man.
The war brought everything promised. Death, destruction, the kind of camaraderie that can only exist between those who have faced death together and been lucky enough for death to blink first. Marcus learned a lot from Sgt. Wurm and the lessons stayed with him. Overall, the military was a good experience for him, it took the raw ore of his character, smelted it in training, tempered it in battle and left him a stronger, more solid man than he might have otherwise become. When his time overseas came to an end, he returned home and embarked on an adventure greater and more meaningful than any that war could throw at him.
Her name was Rosemary.