Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)
TITLE: Fulfilling the Purpose
By Karen Shell
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“At ease,” he said without looking at his men. This wasn’t a task the Colonel would have considered a possibility just a few weeks ago, but events had made it inevitable. The most difficult part now would be informing the men of the need of a volunteer for the mission.
“I know you have all sacrificed since the day you signed up, but today I’m asking for…more.” The Colonel took a deep breath as he began to explain. “The situation has changed. Our enemy has changed tactics, causing us to lose all we’ve gained up to this point. Our only hope now is to fly into territory we had thought we could avoid.” His voice seemed to change as he continued, explaining further details. No explanations of the consequences were necessary. Everyone understood this was to be a suicide mission.
The Colonel was silent, knowing without searching their faces what they were thinking. How could he blame them. This was a popular strategy of the enemy.
After only a few moments, a young man approached the Colonel slowly, yet with boldness. “I’ll go,” were his only words.
Those who had been afraid to look forward or even at each other, staring out the window or at the floor, suddenly looked up, half-relieved, half-ashamed. He was the logical choice, they reasoned silently. After all, most had wives and young families. He had only his father. He was the best pilot in the squadron, so the mission couldn’t fail. If this were the only solution, he was the only man for the job.
The Colonel’s ashen face betrayed his reaction. All their surroundings vanished as the two men stood face to face. Colonel Wallace was now staring, not at an aviator, but a six-year-old boy, sitting on his knee with a toy airplane, animating how he would someday be the pilot of a much larger aircraft. The memory quickly faded as pride and admiration replaced the sadness of the impending sacrifice. The choice belonged to the one making the offer. How could he, after all, ask another to give up a son if he could not do the same. No more words were spoken; none were needed. Only a father and son with the same devotion to their country could communicate in such a way to fulfill the purpose.
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