June 6, 1994
This is it. It’s time for Operation Overload. This better work, or else we’re all dying. My breathing is so heavy and so fast, and that is all I can hear. There is a loud pounding sound in my head that I can’t shake. My hands are trembling so much that I can barely hold my gun. I try to steady them by gripping tighter to the gun, but it does nothing for me. I look down. It is so blue, the water. So pure. It is sparkling and it is calm. It almost soothes me.
“Let’s go, boys!” shouts a soldier. I can’t see who. There are too many people crowded into one boat. I obey his order and jump over the side of the boat.
I am going down, down, down, and all I hear is my heartbeat. I am enclosed in the saltiness, and I cannot swim back up. It is too heavy. Too heavy. I am watching the other men sink down, their bodies go still. That can’t happen to me. That won’t happen to me. I struggle as I untangle some equipment from my back and shove it off. Slowly, I make my way up to the surface and gasp with relief.
Then I realize I am in hell. There are bullets flying everywhere. There are screams. There are splashes of struggling. I try to run, faster, but the water slows me down to the point where we have already lost so many men from the countless bullets aimed anywhere on our bodies.
I am swimming in a pool of blood already, and we’ve been out here for at most 10 minutes. A mine goes off and a soldier cries bloody murder. I race over to him, shielding myself by using the hedgehogs. His insides are spilled over the sand and he is screaming loud.
“It’s going to be alright, sir.” I say this even though, for him, it isn’t going to be alright. I glance up and see that the remaining men are racing for the bunkers, a defense system that we had to take down. I abandon the man as he screams again and run to the sand piles where we all take cover for a few minutes and talk with the men still in the boats over a little radio. I feel guilty for leaving that man behind. Maybe I could have saved him.
I bite my lip, pondering over the fact that what I am about to do can kill me. I stand up from my cover of the sand dunes and race back to the man, lying on the ground, screaming. The sand under my feet is being kicked in every direction.
“It’s ok, I’m here, I’m here to save you.” I say. The look on his face was the most grateful expression I had ever seen. It was also the most frightened.
“Yes! Tha-thank you.” I push him into my arms and try to do this quickly, but he is the size of me. Then my arm goes slack from the most painful thing I have ever felt: a bullet pierced my skin and into my flesh. I can feel it wedged into my bone. I wince, but do not scream, as the blood starts to pour onto this soldier’s leg.
I smell all the blood. It smells stale and ugly and awful. I want to throw up, but just gag instead. I make my way back to the sand dunes without killing myself and try to gently rest the man on the dunes.
“Thank you.” He says again. “We made it.”
“Yes sir,” I add, “For now.”
**The previous excerpt is based on 8th grade social studies. 8th grade students learned about D-Day and World War II by watching parts of the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and researching different topics. This is to honor the anniversary of Victory Day, May 8th, when the Nazis surrendered and WWII was over.**