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Wrapped In The Arms Of A Hero

In Tribute To The Lima 3/5 Marines Who Served In The Republic of South Vietnam

Susan E. PattersonSept2002


The rolling blackness of the sky and the deafening echoes of thunderís roar were the first indications of the oncoming assault.  Within seconds and without warning, the wind wickedly attacked me with its twirling, violent rage, and the dark clouds above me opened to release the cruel battering of an unrelenting downpour.  The pounding rain was soon joined by the piercing shrapnel of hail, and I felt the threat of injury upon my skin.  As the storm grew in its intensity, the sky unmercifully cast its searing flames to the earth, blinding me with the glare and terrifying me with the danger.  I was engulfed in the horror of the storm with no protection against its torture.  I had neither weapon nor refuge.  I stood before my enemy, helpless and frightened, awaiting the inevitable captured by its horrendous eye.   My screams of frustration died on my lips and my body crumpled hopelessly to the ground as I accepted my undeniable defeat.  I lifted my head and prepared myself for the torment of surrender.  At that moment, I was surprised by the miraculous, unexpected appearance of a fearless image proudly striding through the dangerous thickness of the storm.  Willfully accepting the stormís hazard,  he came to me, mesmerizing me with his determination.  He embraced me, covered me, and gave himself as my shield.  So that I may never experience the true agony of the storm, he bravely allowed his own body to absorb the many waves of danger and abuse.  I was content;  I was safe;  I felt no pain.  I was wrapped in the arms of a hero.


The storm subsided and peace was restored.  Now, the body that had protected me seemed to lay heavy upon me.  I struggled beneath the weight until I managed to push it from me.  Free of the burden, I walked away.  While in the gait of my departure, I looked upward to find the dark skies had been replaced by the brightest blue I had ever seen.  Scanning the terrain of this great land I call home, I was rewarded with the most glorious greens of overgrown grasses swaying with the rhythm of the breeze.  With the sunís brilliance forcing itís way through the remaining clouds, landing its rays on the earth, I discovered a blanket of glistening gold lying within the brilliant browns of the soil.  Looking further, I saw the profound purples of the distant mountains, and I realized the pure innocence represented by the shimmering white top of each.  My attention was drawn from the landscape by the movement of a small red bird radiating its charm in its ascent to the sky.  While watching its grace, I witnessed the entrance of the most powerful and majestic creature I had ever seen.  With elegance and royalty, the mighty bald eagle soared freely in an atmosphere he knew to be his own.  Admiring the splendor of his presence, I was overcome with an undeniable pride in my luxury of freedom.  I was filled with a tranquility found only in the assurance of safety and peace.  I was hypnotized by the grandeur of noble exhibition.  Suddenly, I was awakened and consumed by my realization of the bald eagleís faithful acceptance of the perils accompanying a protectorís flight.  I was amazed by his unfaltering willingness, and I wondered of the cost involved in his gaining control of the sky.  At that moment, I realized people, too, must fight if they are to control their destinies and lounge in their freedoms.  Feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and the gentle stroke of wind upon my skin,  I was reminded of the earlier storm.  I now understood that the beauty in which I reveled came with a price.  Instantly, I became embarrassed by my actions.  I had allowed myself to be protected by a brave stranger, and I had offered nothing in return.  I had allowed him to absorb all dangers of the storm as I selfishly hid beneath his shelter.  I never asked him of the cost of his sacrifices, and after the storm, I simply walked away with no regard to his well-being.  I expressed no gratitude for the refuge I had received.  Standing in the mere beginnings of the storm, I had found my fear.  Facing this fear, I had found my coward and greed.  Yet, a stranger overlooked my thoughtlessness, and he generously gave himself for me.  In doing so, he showed me pride, appreciation, and patriotism.  He showed me courage.  I discovered valor while wrapped in the arms of a hero.


I turned and raced to the brave stranger who had sheltered me.  His clothes hung like rags upon him.  He looked worn and tired.  His face was marked with bruises, and his body had been grossly gashed by debris thrown by the storm.  He was wounded and weakened, yet, he stood proudly before me.  I touched his face, wiping away a droplet of blood trickling down his cheek.  I was overcome with a desire to erase the injuries heíd suffered for me.  I looked into his eyes, and I was overwhelmed and humiliated by the reality I found within.  It was in these eyes I found the wound that would possibly never heal:  the deep cut of betrayal.  I hung my head in shame for I was forced to admit the cruel suffering - the unjust misery - rendered by the many people who have unappreciatively accepted the comforts of  being wrapped in the arms of a hero.


Beloved Marines, you offered your embraces, gave yourselves as shelter, and you were repaid with apathy.  I wish I could erase this shameful and painful truth.  Unfortunately, I can merely say Iím sorry.  Each of you is truly a hero, and I salute you.  For all youíve done and all you are, you have my undying gratitude.  I will always remember it is you who endures the storm and graciously allows me the blissful ignorance of its costs.  Because of you, I live my life peacefully and happily.   It is my privilege and  my honor to be wrapped in the arms of a hero.