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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)

TITLE: "An American Soldier"
By Frank Salerni


“The American Soldier”

Gunfire sizzled just overhead, the sky was full of smoke, and the air was thick with the smell of death.

His back was against the wall of a foxhole so that he was facing away from the third attack in two days.

No sleep.

His left hand rested on top of his helmet to hold it firmly in place as the fingers on his right hand clenched his riffle. Bits and pieces of debris rained relentlessly upon him forcing him to keep his eyes all but closed.

His ears were almost tone deaf now to the noise surrounding him. He had a thirst never before encountered that would appear not to ever be quenched again.

Exhausted, fearful, feelings of forsakenness, dying to protect freedom for people he never knew, and wondering if they would even spend a moment in prayer for him; a moment to pray for him with knowledge would carry him so much further than anyone would ever realize… his thoughts broken as someone tumbled in next to him.

Recognizing the enemies’ uniform he spontaneously brought the riffle barrel to rest on the back of his foes neck. The next few moments seemed to stop time.

The enemy lay there like a rag doll that was discarded by an uncaring child.

With his right foot he carefully placed his boot upon the shoulder of this blood-soaked solider, and he turned him over ever so slowly.

Death now had a face.

His eyes were open, fixed, gray, and lifeless, filled with dirt.

These images coupled with horrifying thoughts, and the smell of war would never allow him the innocents of the sheltered life he had known before.

He did however have one thought that was ever so clear in his mind.

This dead man in the trenches with me was doing the same thing I was. Fighting for what he thought was right. That is what I am going to live with when I raise my sights, and pull the trigger. Why? So my wife, and my six-month-old son have a chance to live, and to love, and to weep in freedom as the sun rises for them tomorrow morning.

As he was looking into his enemy’s eyes he glanced down to a torn shirt pocket exposing the corner of a tattered book.

He unbuttoned the pocket and removed to his horror, a small bible with a picture of a wife and young son. On the back of the photo it simply said, “We are waiting for your return in love.”

His eyes filled with tears as he started to pray.

“Dear God, help me know Your children are praying for me, a Christian solider. I am desperate, but in faith I understand that I am in Your care, and I long to know that this calling You have placed on my life is not in vain, for this is but my third day on this earthly battlefield. And your word says to pray for our enemies, so I do pray that You will receive this one who gave his life for his family. This man lying dead next to me… the American soldier.”

Ephesians 6:12-20

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

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This article has been read 666 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jacquelyn Horne04/12/07
This is a good story of wartime. I liked the gentle surprise at the end as to the identity of the soldier. Good job.
Great surprise ending. Keep writing, good job. Janie
Angela M. Baker-Bridge04/12/07
A favored passage of scripture, and a tribute to those fighting to us. Thanks for sharing. Angel
Brenda Welc04/12/07
Very vivid story! The goosebumps I feel just are not going away!
Val Clark04/14/07
Great story. Nice twist that the enemy was also a Christian, raises all sorts of questions, doesn't it? Watch for the point of view shift from third person (he) to first person (I me). If you intended the 'I' point of view shift to be the character thinking then italics is a neat way to do that. A hint: Your 7th paragraph is one long sentence. One way to maintain tension in a piece of writing is to keep the sentences short. Having said that, you did maintain the tension needed to keep me rapidly reading until the end. This is great work at this level I look forward to reading more of your stuff. yeggy
Debbie OConnor04/14/07
An excellent story that provokes the reader to remember and pray for our soldiers. I also like that the enemy was a Christian. Looking forward to reading more of your work.
Aylin Smith 04/14/07
Wonderful story. You should be proud of this piece.
Victoria Otoo04/16/07
I think it a good one. Thanks for reminding me that I need to remember to pray always for those fighting on our behalf. It is a reminder that PRAYER IS THE KEY. G
Marc Smith04/17/07
This is a phenominal piece. Very gripping. The use of scripture at the end was superb and really solidified the rest of the article.