His gait was slower this year than last but he kept moving forward, his goal was in sight and even that felt further away than last year as well. But he kept putting one foot in front of the other while using his cane to keep his balance and his drive to continue kept him moving forward.
It had been quite a few years that he had been doing this and he was not sure how many more times he would be able to make this journey but he had given his word to them and he would keep it for as long as he could. He owed them.
Eventually he made the last step and he was in front of the Wall. The Wall filled with names, that went on for ages and contained so many memories of so long ago and those who went on first and those who had joined them over time.
It was a memorial of the regiment and had the names of all those who served from the first formation to those who fell in the last battles. The names of all those men and women and their deeds they carried out are all recorded in the Wall for those who remember and to never forget.
He found the section where their names had been carved into the Wall and his vision started to mist up. But he wasn’t crying, it was just the blasted weather. Just like last year and the years before that.
And even with the tears he still saw their names, and the memories came to him thick and fast, even if the minute details were slightly blurred after all this time. He saw them as they first met in the beginning, young and brave and not really understanding what they were doing but determined to be heroes of the regiment. Fools but oh so brave fools they all were.
The training was hard and whittled the numbers of recruits down but they all kept going because they all thought they were immortal. The hubris of youth and what made them all magnificent.
The reduced numbers of recruits finally reached the final goal of their hard training and passed in review and were finally the soldiers they wanted to be. They were harder and trained but they still didn’t know what the final lesson would teach them but it would come oh too soon as the politicians decided that someone needed to be taught a lesson. Or they wanted some resources or someone was insulted or some such ridiculous excuse for war.
So the regiment was mobilised and all those soldiers were shipped off to war and those brave fools were right there with them, not knowing what they were going to be taught. They laughed and joked and were secretly scared but bravely marched forward.
Their squad was full at 20 troops and the corporals, sargents, lieutenants and captain who told them what to do but it didn’t stay like that for long. The first battle took it’s first blood and those brave fools were taught what war takes as it’s payment.
Four soldiers were sent home to family and friends, never to laugh, cry or love ever again but their memories stayed with the squad. With their friends, their mates, with the regiment.
They went first but they were joined later on with more. One or two, now and then over time. And the squad shrunk in size and then grew with new members, but the originals all knew that they would remember them all no matter what.