Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)
TITLE: Omaha Beach
By Karen Deikun
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He wasn’t angry about being drafted – he believed they were in a war that needed to be fought. Some of their neighbors on Carlisle Street didn’t agree with the war, though – at least, not before Pearl Harbor. They thought that what was going on in Europe was not a matter of concern for the US, and they didn’t believe the stories they heard about people being burned to death in ovens. Such a thing was inconceivable to a tenderhearted man like Dan, who had cried when his dog was hit by a car. To cause human beings such suffering when they had done nothing was beyond his ability to understand, but Dan did believe it was happening. He knew it with a sure dread. His mother was the only one on the street who had made friends with the Jewish family at the corner. Greta got news from her family in Europe from time to time and she’d read the letters to them in the kitchen, her voice breaking and her hands shaking. It was all true - and Dan knew it had to be stopped. Believing it didn’t make it any easier to leave Laura, and it didn’t make the actual reality of war any easier, either. He was there because it had to be done.
As he went through the routine of pulling on his boots and checking his equipment, he felt the huge ship begin to shake as it slowed. They began going topside, and climbing onto the small boats that would take them ashore. He idly realized that today was June 6th, 1944 – his twenty-first birthday. He felt a terrible sadness as he imagined Laura looking at the calendar – wishing they could be together to celebrate.
Before them in the eerie dawn light they heard the strange whistle and shriek followed by booming explosions as grenades landed. When their boats hit the coastline, they jumped out, landing in a nightmare of noise and confusion. Dan glanced behind him to see the boats pulling away. There was no way back.
It all felt unreal. He watched himself raise his rifle and take aim. He couldn’t be shooting at another human being – he couldn’t be doing that. He should be seeing the black and white images on a movie screen, not these much too real faces, not his buddies falling to the ground beside him. Time seemed to slow and every movement seemed to take forever and yet no time at all. Amid the noise, as he saw men fall to the right and the left, he knew without a doubt that this was his last day on earth. He wondered what it would be like to die. He began to pray as he moved ahead, knowing that soon his body, along with thousands of others, would lay lifeless on Omaha Beach that day.
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