Cowardice as Crusade

It was odd that his mother sent him out to play so late at night. There was no objection or question from the boy as his mother slipped the heavy vest over his head followed by his normal clothing. He assumed the vest was some sort of flak jacket like the Americans wore. It made sense, he thought, to be safe while living in a village with US military forces stationed on the outskirts. He was happy for the protection and felt special; wouldn’t his friends be jealous.

Playing near the fence had been Mother’s suggestion; another oddity. She gave the answer before he could ask the question. It made sense that the fence lights would keep him safer.

He ran.
He played.
He tossed his ball high.
He was torn apart by the explosive vest before the ball hit the ground.

His mother shed only tears for the glory waiting beyond. No thought to her loss or to his unwitting sacrifice for a cause he was too young to comprehend.

The boy was mourned by few and celebrated by many for a choice that was never his to make.

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