Sunday, September 26, 2004


This is a short story I wrote my first year in college for an English Composition Class, when the thoughts of war and the focus of eradicating terrorists cells wherever they may be hiding! But anyway here is my story and hope it touches your heart in a special way and makes you consider how what we are fighting for is worth just that fighting!
I’m sure we can all remember when, where, and what we were doing on September 11, 2001. But few remember it the way I do.
"This is an announcement to all the History teachers that the World Trade Center Towers have just been hit by a plane, and this may be a good way to get your students to watch current events." I was in my Chemistry class when the announcement from Mrs. Lindsay, one of Holleybrook High School’s assistant principals, come over the loudspeakers. We had been discussing balancing Chemical Equations, but when we heard this we all stopped in astonishment. My teacher broke the silence when she told me to turn on the television.
The first channel that appeared was nothing but snow. But the next channel I say was total blackness, I started to turn the channel. In my shock, though, I realized that the blurring endless blackness wasn’t just on an unavailable channel but where a camera had zoomed in on the smoke engulfed towers and was now backing off to allow the viewer to see the entire picture of horror.
At first, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I couldn’t believe that this country, my brother, my family, and I had always spoken in honor and pride was now under attack by an unseen enemy that had now come to the surface and made itself known. As the day continued, all I could think about was my brother, Gabriel Michael Holleybrook, who was a Sergeant 1st Class in the United States Marine Corps.
People outside in the halls of Holleybrook High were making jokes about the possibility of going to war, and even some were joking about the possibility of the draft being reinstated. Some even made statements that really made me upset. It came time for a class change and I heard many of these conversations, one in particular I will always remember.
I had already gotten to my History class and was waiting for the class to start. When a shrill laughing came through the doorway and into my hearing range, it was another junior, a girl, I know. They were cracking jokes about what we had just witnessed on television. And then the girl said, "OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING TO DIE!" And then she and this group all began to laugh. I even remember what clothing she and the others were wearing. I, on the other hand, saw it as no laughing matter because I knew that Gabriel, my brother, could possibly die.
Gabriel was a man’s man, but he was still my big brother. He was 6'2", 210 lb., brown hair, blue eyes, and had the farmer’s tan of a country boy that had spent many summers riding four wheelers and horses in the pasture. He always joked saying that Mama and I were the first women he ever loved. Gabriel had been home for more than six months on "Family Leave," due to Daddy’s cancer diagnosis.
In the last few weeks, we had been reminded where Gabriel had inherited his strength from, both mentally and physically. In this time period, he had let his hair grow out and had grown a mustache and goatee. I always can remember how he looked as a soldier, but amazingly enough to me he had begun to look like my brother again. The Gabriel I knew.
By the time I got home, my brother was gone and soldier had returned. Gone were the signs of long hair and the return of a crew cut, and gone were the goatee and mustache to a clean-shaven marine. When I drove up in the yard, with these signs of the times, I knew he had already received the call that would take him from his family and could possibly take his life.
The next day Gabriel had to leave for Fort Jackson, and they would assign him his duties there, but we all knew what they would be. Gabriel was the man, the boy, my brother whom when I was little, would always let me climb into bed with him during a thunderstorm. He even wouldn’t say a word (in front of me anyway) when Mama would make him take me on some of his dates to go putt-putt, or even when she wanted him to take me to the movies. This man was now going off to war.
Daddy was going alone to take Gabriel to the base, because we knew that Mama and I wouldn’t be able to handle leaving him behind. Daddy, Mama, Gabriel, and I all walked out on the front porch to begin to say our good-byes.
Gabriel hugged me last. He hugged me and stood and looked into my eyes and asked, "Little-One, do you remember the chorus of the Ray Boltz song I love?" I just nodded my head, because I dared not try to speak while I was trying to hold back tears.
Gabriel gave a smile, put his hand on my shoulder, and began to recite the words of the song to me. He said, "Always remember Little-One: It’s a honor to serve, to join in the fight, to lift up my voice, to lay down my life. Giving glory to God seeking none in return. It’s an honor, an honor, to serve, Little-One. Just always remember that Little-One." Then he leaned down gave me one more hug, and turned and walked down the steps.
He opened the car door, turned, saluted, and I read his lips, "Remember Little-One." Then he got in the car with Daddy and began to ride away.
My heart wrenched as they pulled out of the drive, and out of sight. I watched them drive away until I couldn’t see the car any longer. All I could feel was the pain in my chest and stomach. All I could hear was my rapid heart beat and irregular breathing. All I could see were the rows of blurred houses, bushes, and trees through my tear filled eyes as my heart and soul began to realize that one of the first men I had ever loved was gone.
Gone! Gone to who knows what peril.--LH 1 Timothy 4:12


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