October 3, 2007
Fire rained in the mountains that night. There I crouched on foreign soil, soaked to the bone with water as thick as syrup and armed with nothing but a camera. It filled my boots and hat; it made my skin soft and my camera lense distorted. I flinched uncontrollably at the sound of gunshots and bombs in the distance, but the soldiers surrounding me seemed to be numb to the sounds. As fire fell from the velvet black about three miles ahead, the rain engulfing the unit intensified to the point that it seemed to be shooting out of the ground. I was at the brink of a war front because of an assignment: to capture the honesty of the war. I was told someone must go, and I was the man for the job. So there I stood, in a group of soldiers about to go into battle, waiting for the perfect picture. I took my last five steps with the unit, wiped off my lense and hopelessly glanced through. That is when I found my shot; he was standing in front of me grinning at another soldier. At that exact moment, I saw a young boy with all of his life ahead of him thrown into a war that could possibly end it. He was a man worn out, yet still, as he literally walked into battle, a grin spread across his face. Inscribed into his helmet was a countdown of the months of the year from March until February ending in the word HOME. Whether he would ever return home was unknown to him as well as every other sodier in the unit. Soaked in rain, walking into fire, he was a young man, fighting a war for peace. My camera clicked, and I turned away from the unit. Now, knee deep in mud, I fought my way back to the jeep that would take me away from the front lines. I turned around one last time to see the back of the soldier who had helped me capture my "honesty". As I saw him kneeling on the ground about 25 yards ahead with a bullet through the helmet that had marked his countdown to home, that is when I saw true honesty. The fire continued to rain from the sky as I stepped into the jeep and pulled away.