101 Years Ago Today

101 years ago today, one Pte. John William Harris of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry arrived at Le Havre, France awaiting transport to the Western Front.

I still don’t remember that day.  I’ve had brief flashes that might have been of Le Havre but I can’t positively place them.

As for my motives, re-tracing my steps has helped me understand better why I was there and to some small degree, begin to make peace with it.

I was there because the only stable career I had ever known was as a soldier.  I was there because I wanted a second chance to make a name for myself, to finally get past the rank of Private and show courage under fire.  I was there because I wanted to make my father proud by doing my duty.  I was there because men I had served with in India were also there, and I missed the esprit de corps.

In short, I was there because it seemed at the time like the only sensible thing I could do with my life.

I still have trouble accepting it.  I look back at a life shattered and contaminated with memories of some of the most barbaric slaughter in history and I ask myself all the time if there really wasn’t any other way.  The experience left a deep psychic scar that has run across several lifetimes now.

Was this really the only way?  Did I really have to die like a dog and spend two subsequent lives trying to figure out why I was so messed up?


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