Pigeon of Freedom
Toby Cutting, 14, is a cadet Master corporal in his hometown of Grand Falls Newfoundland
The light pitter patter of falling rain is nearly inaudible over the deep rumble of the hulking beasts of steel that launch roaring fireballs at each other. All around them, soldiers wearing the flags of their homelands point wands of death at one another. They stamp and shoot and kill and die, all for their loved ones back home.
A young, unnamed soldier lies still, in the middle of the field, surrounded by green grass and poppies, waiting for his enemy’s head to appear amid the chaos around him. He feels the ground shake as bombs are dropped close to him. He hears the screams of his friends over the constant noise of battle. He sees the home of the enemy through a dense fog, brought on by the harsh weather. He tastes blood. Hot, salty, and full of iron. It fills his mouth before all his other senses are left behind, and he is pulled away from the war. No one notices the man now lying dead in Flanders Field, but he will be remembered.
Roughly ten feet from where that man’s freshly dead body lies is a growling metal hunk with a gun and wheels. The hatch slides open from the hunk and a small whitish gray bird appears. Attached to the bird is a letter for a man who could control the fate of others from afar. The bird leaps into action, flapping its wings desperately against the howling wind and the unforgiving rain. No one notices as the bird flies up, higher and higher over the chaotic scene that stretches across Europe. He flies and gazes back down at the countless men below, struggling against their foe. He watches as tanks rumble back-and-forth, as heroes die for their families. He watches as platoon after platoon is wiped out by new enemy technology. The pigeon watches but has to look away. He soars higher, flying over trees and cities, now black with ash and sadness. He flies over grieving mothers, over war, over terror. He keeps flying, getting older as he does.
He flies over the end of the war, where the Central Powers surrendered to the Allies. He flies over the great depression, where evil rises to power again. He flies over the invasion of Poland, and he flies over Pearl Harbour. He watches as the world bands together to put the balance between good and evil in check, and he flies over when they succeed. He flies over the graves of those who died defeating Hitler, and those who died defending him, and he comes to the conclusion that they should be equally respected, equally honored, and most importantly they should be equally remembered. The pigeon soars, and on land, I stand with my unit, remembering the fallen and thanking them.
We stand in rows on soft grass in the memorial ground, berets on and standing up straight. I stand at attention while the pigeon falls lazily from the sky and lands on the memorial. However, he is no longer a pigeon but a dove. Time stops around me as he touches down. I slowly break out of ranks and retrieve the message from his leg. It’s addressed to Mcpl Cutting. I open it and read aloud to myself:
We are those who have died for you to live the life that you all do. On November 11 remember us and we will live on forever inside your hearts.