The memories of the fading lights remain, though years have passed.
That which would glow so strong and strikingly, with frame within them, as a moon in the night sky dims the stars about it.
Gone in a frosted instant.
I stood once side to side with men with whom I could and did entrust my life with.
I stood proudly then, weapon drawn as I too would cry to the heavens that the Gods might rise from their slumber and know that it was I upon that field of battle with men I would call brother without hesitation.
I stand proudly now, for all I was and all I did.
And with pride within them, I caused the lights to fade from the eyes of other men, as did my brothers in arms.
Our cause was ours, just in all it was despite the nagging of those who would bend the world and history to shape their view.
I regret nothing, even as I stand here grey and weary, children. But I stared into the eyes of foes as I took their lives.
I watched their lights fade, and I would do so again. For we did what we had to to save our own from them, just as they would have stood here to say the same.
I stared into their eyes, so I might remember that, children. So I might remember the cost of war, and never take for granted the peaceful fields in which we are today.
Perhaps you all will take this for granted, despite my words. Perhaps words and stories are just that to those who have always known the comfort of mother’s apron and father’s shield.
But one day, children, one day it will be your shield, your apron. One day children, I pray it never so, but such is life, you too will know the price of all of this. The cost of carefree life, and how it is only ever afforded to the young.
For life rewards the brave, the robust, those who stare death in the face and strike, just as it takes from those who assume all would simply enjoy the same, and share without ever wanting more.
Life and fate are seldom as simple as reality for children imposed by parents.