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Patriotic Story
Real / Nonfiction
Steven J. Newton

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The Newspaper

Night was falling over the battlefield as the old grizzled Marine Sergeant took stock of his men. Smoke filled the air from the artillery and helicopter gun ships and the smell of cordite was everywhere.

It had been a furious battle and a costly one. Three of his men lay in body bags beside a burned out humvee. But his men had been courageous and had given far more than they had received. The old sergeant moved among his men offering encouragement and comfort.

Even with their losses the morale of his men were high and they were eager to get back into the battle to avenge the loss of their friends and comrades. The sergeant was proud of them all. They had performed magnificently in the face of the enemy. In the morning they would take up where they left off and finish this job once and for all.

While making his last rounds of the night and making sure his watch was on duty the sergeant noticed a group of young Marines huddled around an old newspaper from the real world. The young Marines were arguing and the newspaper seemed to be the cause. Curious he walked over and grabbed the paper out of their hands.

The headline of the newspaper, in big bold print, stated that the war being fought had turned into a quagmire and that it was no longer winnable. Cursing the sergeant tore the paper into pieces and looked at his men. A very young Marine looked up and said “Sarge is it true?” “ Are we losing?” “Of course not, you idiot!” “Do you believe everything you read?” “Now get some sleep.”

The old sergeant prayed that the newspaper would not affect the morale he had seen during the day. He had seen men lose their will to fight before when support at home had dried up. But he had faith in his men and in his ability to give them hope.

However, as the battle started the next morning he noticed that the drive and fire in them had been extinguished. They were lack luster and careless. As the battle raged more and more of them were making mistakes and dying for it. He knew he and his men were in trouble and he said a quick prayer: “God please help me give back to my boys the fighting spirit they have lost.”

In a flash he knew what he had to do. He found the old torn up newspaper and he stuck pieces in his pockets where they fluttered in the breeze. He walked to the front of the lines and yelled: “Ok, boys, you got a choice. You can follow me and stand up for God and Country or you can listen to what was in this old rag of a newspaper and just lie down and die but I am going forward.” And so he did.

A great battle was won that day. But when the smoke cleared the old sergeant lay dead. Pieces of that old newspaper still attached to his clothes soaked in his blood. As his men gathered around him, each took a piece of the blood soaked newspaper to always remind them to never doubt again.

Two days later and thousands of miles away:

The peace group claims that 8 innocent children were killed. In other war news, a Marine sergeant was killed 20 miles north of Baghdad. It has been reported that this sergeant was carrying an old edition of this newspaper proving once and for all that even our soldiers are calling this war a quagmire. In a generous show of solidarity with our troops and in an effort to improve their morale, our parent company has decided to donate 10,000 copies of this newspaper to the armed forces every month.
Steven J. Newton
Copyright 2004

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