Dear Mom and Dad,
“Yea, thou I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.”
I remember memorizing all of Psalm 23 in church. I never really understood that verse until I came to this war. I think I understand it more. now. Or maybe I don’t understand it like the poet David did, but my time here has given me a perspective I didn’t have before.
You and Dad have always protected me. My life was pretty wonderful I realize now that I’ve left the confines of the farm, the county in Iowa, our friends and neighbors and church. The biggest valleys I had to face back home were chores, colds, tests and called a hick by some of the city folks in school.
I know I’ve written to you about places I’ve seen and people I’ve met, but not all the places I’ve been or all of the people I’ve met. In my last letter I admit to leaving some things out that are too hard to talk about. But now I think you might need to hear about some of it.
I’ll be coming home soon. But, and I know you know this already, Mom because you told me once life won’t be the same after this. And Dad, you told me that this will probably make a real man out of me quicker than it should you were afraid. I didn’t understand until now what you meant, Mom and Dad. You probably didn’t even know how true those words were going to be, either. That’s why I need to tell you some of the ugliness I’ve seen and done.
In my platoon, I got really close to a couple of other guys. We shared foxholes, K-rations and lots of experiences together. I told you a little about Daryl Dawson when I told you about some sight-seeing I did over here. Well, this other guy from New York was usually with us. I say he’s from New York but he always said up State New York. His name was Franklin, Mark Franklin.
It was hard for me to tell you about Mark Franklin for a long time until now. I think you’ll understand in a minute. But I remind you about that Bible portion I quoted earlier because we’re about to go into the valley of the shadow of death. I was with Mark when he died. Things got really dark after that. I got really dark after that.
Mom, you know how much I said I hated math class, spinach, Margie Pickton. I didn’t. I didn’t know hate like I learned hate for Naxis. They killed one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known, even nicer than Cousin Richard and you know how nice he is.
I couldn’t wait each day to go out and kill some more Nazis. The idea of killing something even rabbits always bothered me. Sorry, Dad, I bet you didn’t know that. But I loved hunting with you, Joe and Uncle Pete. I bet you thought I was a bad shot. I’m not. I hit and killed almost every Nazi I aimed at.
Going out on patrol used to make me really nervous. Mom, maybe you shouldn’t read this part. Bullets, bombs, all kinds of things whizzing by and landing nearby made me jump every time. That is until Mark was killed. He died right in front of me, while we were talking. It didn’t happen fast, either. He was in such pain. He tried to be brave but he blubbered like a baby when he realized he was going to die. But right before the medic arrived, he found some peace. He quoted that verse.
Mark started quoting that verse about the valley of the shadow of death in tears, but when he got to the part about ‘thou art with me,” he smiled and stopped. When the medic got there, he was dead. I didn’t cry. I got mad. Don’t tell Pastor Justin but I was really mad at God. Looking back, I thing I blamed him more than the Nazis. I think it was God I was punishing by killing as many people as I could. I’m sorry for being so honest but you needed to know.
It’s a funny thing but as mad as I got at God, I think he kept loving me more. You can ask Pastor about that but I believe it, now. God was sure funny about it, though. He kept me thinking about Mark, even though that was why I was angry in the first place. I kept thinking Mark smiled when he got to the part about ‘thou art with me,” because he thought God would spare his life. But after a while I began to believe something different. It took another terrible experience before I realized it, though.
Before I tell you about it, your going to have to go read the Twenty-third Psalm. You’re going to have to cling to it as you read what I’m going to tell you next. I will preface the next part with this good news. I will be coming home, soon. I’ll tell you why on the next page. But promise you won’t look until you’ve read the Twenty-third Psalm.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake. Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
(To Be Continued)
Categories: Short Story
I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at email@example.com.