Pi­geon of Free­dom

Sherbrooke Record - - CLASSIFIED -

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.

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