Wartime Memories

In dramatic monologue Wartime Memories, Xavier reveals a dark past memory from when he served in the war.

XAVIER:  I was shipped out at a time when it was freezing outside.  We were all bunkered up in the mountains.  I was paired up with a guy named Tony Rocco.  He was already there about a year prior to my arrival.  Needless to say, the early grind already started to take a negative effect on Tony.  This guy was petrified to be there.  I don’t blame him.  I was nervous also but this guy, this guy was a wreck.

We would take turns throughout the night, covering eachothers post so the other guy could get some rest.  It was terrible conditions.  Ice cold weather, always dark and dreary.  Pure misery.  All Tony ever talked about was getting back home.  Getting back home…Both his father and his brother were hero’s in the war.  Both were honorably discharged men.  And here is this Tony guy scared shit-less, nothing like his father or brother.  But he had a family reputation to live up to.

One night it was Tony’s turn to take watch.  I fell asleep but at a certain point in the night something stirred me awake.  Tony began firing out of our bunker.  Then he stopped and told me to stay back.  I watched impatiently.  I watched him tale out a grenade and pull the pin.  He then stuck his hand out of the bunker and just held the grenade until it went off.  I was mortified.  Why would he do such a thing to himself?

When help came, Tony was carried off in a stretcher.  Despite not having a hand anylonger, he looked at me with a grin on his face.  Despite all the pain he was physically suffering, he looked relaxed…happy even.  And that’s when it dawned on me…he was going home.  He was to be honorably discharged just like his father and brother.  His story was that it was the enemies grenade and he threw it back out to save his life and my own.  So he received the purple heart.  But I knew the truth.

Months later, I was questioned by my Sergeant.  He told me that I deserved the purple heart for keeping my mouth shut and that he knew the truth all along.  I never confessed to the Sargeant’s acknowledgement of the truth.  But we both gave one another a look and knew.

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Joseph Arnone