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Saving Private Ryan: Richard Reiben
So you wanna know what happened to good ole Reiben after the war. After he went home. Well it's obvious, isn't it? He went on to be someone real special. Now who am I? I'm that guy you always hear talking up in the sky. You know that guy that always seems to sound like James Earl Jones. Yeah, him. It's been like thirty years or so since the war ended. A long time to live. So what has he done in all that time. Well there was the Nobel Peace Prize thing in 1950, but that one was given to Ralph Bunche. And there was the president thing in '61, but JFK got the job. Unfortunately, things didn't end the best for him. That sucks because he was a nice president. Then there was the Superman thing going, but its not easy to learn how to fly. Still a good time.
No. That's all a lie. I'm not James Earl Jones. I'm just Reiben. I never came close to winning a prize for anything. And I sure as he** ain't no politician. I'm also a pretty far cry from Superman. I ain't no hero. I'm just one of many that fought in a war. No one special. Some people call me a hero. They look at me like I'm really something. But I'm not. I just happened to be lucky enough to get out there alive. I didn't do anything special to earn it. Not as much as some of those other guys did, and a lot of them never saw home again.
It's hard to watch someone die. It's really hard when it's someone you've actually come to like. When you sit there and watch the light leave their eyes. You keep staring into their empty gaze, waiting for them to blink and laugh at the joke they pulled. But then they don't. And even though it's right there in front of you, you just can't seem to believe it. But then you start to realize that they're gone, and they ain't ever coming back. And then you think about how you'll never hear them laugh again. Never see them smile or listen to their voice. And it sucks. Its almost like a part of yourself dies.
Now it's one thing when it's just one person. It's a whole lot different when it's a bunch more. And when most of them are people you don't know, you're not sure if it's better or worse that way. Especially when you're the one doing the killing.
And then you start to wonder if it's all worth it. If all these guys are really dying for something special, or if they're just wasting their time.
And then you get told you're going home. And you question whether that's good or bad. You get there, and they all expect you to be the same man you were when you left. And you feel bad, because you know you're disappointing them. You're different and you know it. They know it. But no one seems to want to believe it. After awhile you wonder why it was you. Why you're the one going home, and not lying dead in a sea of white like so many others? What you did to deserve the right to be alive? But then you ask yourself, am I really alive? Or is my soul just as gone as all those other men? You'd love to forget, but you just can't help remembering.
You walk down the street and think you see a familiar face. Then you remember. That man is dead. Someone says something that reminds of you those days and then you suddenly find yourself back in that he**. You close your eyes at night and all you can see are all those men dying right in front of you. You struggle at first, but then you just learn to live with it. You learn to live with the fact that home will never be home again.
How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart, you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep. Some things, that no matter how you try, you'll never forget.
Still. Somehow, someway, life goes on. And then you are faced with two choices. You can live in the past and let life pass you by, or you can stop feeling sorry for yourself, get off your butt, and jump into the life that's flying by without you. You remember what a precious thing life is. And then you think to yourself, there must be a reason why I'm still here. A reason why I didn't die with the others, a reason why I got out of there, when so many others didn't. A reason why it's you and not someone else.
So you spend a long part of your life trying to find out that reason. You search and search for an answer, but you can't seem to find one. You drive yourself mad digging for something, anything to console your mind. Anything to put your brain to rest. But deep down, you know you won't ever find one.
So you do the only thing you have left to do. Create a reason. Make it worth it. Earn it. Earn the life you were given.
You realize you'll never move on. You only learn to make it a little easier to live with each day. Some days it almost seems like things were how they were before the war. Other days you wake up in cold sweat and have to tell yourself over and over that you're not in that killing field anymore. Others you feel like you have no soul left, because you just feel so da** dead inside. And you wonder why you keep putting yourself through it. Why bother when there's an easy way out. If only you had the guts to do it. But then you remember your reason. That reason you've spent so long searching for. And you can't bring yourself to let all that go to waste.
So where am I at? I'm here. Living each day. Taking them on each one at time. Some days I don't think about that Godforsaken war once. And other days, I can't get it out of my head.
People tell me they honor me for what I did for this country. I want to ask them what exactly it was I did. It's like they praise me for killing. People tell me I'm a hero. But in every book I've ever read and every movie I've ever seen, the killer is called the villain. I want to tell them that I'm no hero. That I'm just another man. No one special. Some people even tell me that it's a great thing. What I did for that Ryan boy. I don't have the heart to tell them that it wasn't me. I didn't save anyone. I didn't want to find him. How angry I was at him. But then I wonder if it's him I'm really angry at. Or if its really me instead. So I just smile, nod, and continue on with my day. After all. How am I supposed to know what a hero is.
Caparzo. His dad sure looked at me like I was some kind of hero when I gave him that letter. He looked at me like I held the world in my hands and I was passing it on to him. His eyes sparkled with new tears, and he held that piece of paper to his heart. And I made that happen. I helped that man get his closure. Helped him really say goodbye to his son.
Closure. Maybe after all this time, that's what I'm looking for. Some kind of closure. But how do I find that?
So maybe you can tell me Captain. Tell me how I'm supposed to earn it. Tell me how I'm supposed to pick up the pieces of my life, and make something of them. Tell me that I'm not crazy for standing here, talking to this da** white cross that has you're name etched across it! Tell me that the things I did, the choices I made, tell me it was worth it. Tell me that those men died an honorable death! Tell me that it was all for the best! Tell me! Tell me something that can help me get on with my life! It's been thirty da**ed years an I'm no closer to an answer than I was that first day I came home.
Tell me what I'm supposed to do! Just like the way you used to. Just how it once was. Tell me that I deserve to be here, and not lying in a hole right there next to you! Tell me that I've earned it. Anything. Just tell me anything. Anything at all. Tell me why it's you, and not me. Even though you deserved to go back home a thousand times more than I did. Explain to me how the he** this is right! Tell me. Because no one else will.
Why Captain? Why do things happen this way? Why does it have to hurt so bad? Why does it still sting after all this time? Why me? Why am I the one that has deal with this? How come you got to take the easy why out? How come I have to sit here and live through it all again and again? Tell me why, Captain! Tell me! Da**it, tell me! Give me something! Tell me! Please, Captain. Tell me.
Grove City, Ohio
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"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." ~Albus Dumbledore