1997 USSBA Group 4 Open Champions
The story read before
Championships by Chris Hermosilla
In the middle of this anger and sorrow is a young man, born and raised in the Union. A good man, loyal to his country and his family. The war that he is about to become part of will become infamous for breaking lives and breakinghearts. It will be fought on many levels- but many of the reasons will fail to beunderstood by the common man.
The young man was drafted and he left home to serve in the Union army. He dropped his army satchel on the ground below his feet. He stood on top of the hill gazing down at the Union army camp below him. Taking a few moments to recollect himself, he felt a mix of emotions within him. Confusion, sadness, but most of all, fear. He felt as if he were a small piece in a giant puzzle. Slowly turning around, he took a lingering look at the beautiful countryside he might never see again.
Picking up his few belongings, he swallowed his fear and began the long trudge down to the army camp. Here he would spend weeks, months of his life learning to fire a gun, stab with a blade, use any and all means necessary to kill the rebels and restore the Union to its glory. He had never been a violent man, but his country called, and he obeyed.
He finished his training and, was shipped off to the front line. The tension hungin the air, thick and heavy. He knew that as soon as they were spotted gunfire would fill the air. His commander gave the command.
Move out! At once the soldiers began the march into the unknown. He was nervous. He had shot the targets with better accuracy than most, but the target didn't move, didn't bleed, and didn't shoot back. He feared for the time when he would kill of be killed.
He thought upon the morality of the war. Was it necessary for brother to slay brother? The time was desperate, but was bloodshed the measure to take? As the gray uniforms came into sight, he feared for his answers.
The two armies stopped, staring straight at each other without a word. Many soldiers on both sides were novices, but everything before had vanished. Only blue and gray remained. The Union army commander gave the word to charge and the young man felt himself gripping his rifle with sweaty palms as he ran towards his foe.
The Confederates pointed their rifles and fired. Explosive cracks rocked the man's ears as he saw his comrade fall beside him. Gritting his teeth, he clenched his rifle tighter as the gap between armies closed. He felt his bayonet clip easily into the man's stomach, and as he twisted the knife and pulled it out, he saw his first kill fall without a word.
The sky was filled with gunshots and death cries; bodies slumped to the ground and commands were shouted. The clamor of horses' hooves signaled the Confederates' cavalry; knowing that he did not stand a chance, he quickly gutted the rebel charging him and broke into a run for cover.
His ears pounded with the echo of his heartbeat. His stomach leaped up into his throat as one of his friends fell in front of him, clenching his bloody chest and screaming out in agony. Anger welled up inside of his soul; he roared as he fired his rifle, knocking a mounted Confederate officer off his horse. As the rebel was trampled by his own steed, the man felt no remorse- he was serving his country by quelling the rebellion. He leaped back into the fray with a cry.
Most of his comrades were dead, but the balance was tipping toward the Union. He saw the few remaining gray uniforms turn and flee. The battle was won, as an uneasy silence filled the air.
Time passed as the war dragged on. The young man won medals for his courage and action in the war, but he was still a man with simple values and a simple mind. He did as he was told and in turn managed to survive- but as time went on it became clear that the Civil War would not be won easily. He killed man after man, but when would this madness end? Perhaps the only peace lay in death.
As he laid in the hospital, the young man thought upon all that he had left behind. His family, his love, his life- everything he knew. He has been torn away from his life by the war, and gauging by the number of people in the hospital with him, many others had been taken from comfortable living into this hellish nightmare. The doctor said that his leg wound was serious. An amputation could be performed, but the odds were that he would die in the process. Scraping together what dignity he had left, he decided to go on with the operation.
Back in his hometown, news spread of the courageous man's efforts and his glory in battle. His family and friends rejoiced for if he was successful he would come back alive and well.
But then the word was out. He was in the hospital. Shells had been imbedded in his leg, and a serious operation had taken place. Everyone in town came together to pray for his safety.
The town came together when the telegram came in- and a silence fell over the town as it was announced that he was dead. No one could believe what had happened. He was such a young, innocent man. There was so much life that he had yet to live- it wasn't possible that he could be robbed of life so young. It wasn't fair.
A funeral service was held in his honor. His parents spoke. Their baby boy had been murder by some rebel or unknown who would never be seen again. Their only son had been dragged to this war, the war that had nothing to do with him. He didn't deserve to die.
The last to speak was his girlfriend. They were to be wed- but the war had ruined her life as war has ended his.
The Civil War had tragically ruined this man's life and the lives of others he knew- but he was but one of hundreds of thousands of Americans who had died for this so-called "Civil War." The funeral service ended as a lone drum could be heard in the distance.
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