THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BATTLE |
July 19, 2011
Name: Garrett Phillip Anderson
Returned from: Iraq and Afghanistan
Hometown: Portland, OR
Milblog: Iraq/Afghanistan and More
I was tapping at the plastic keys of a guitar video game controller to The Beatles earlier tonight. I had a flashback and my hair stood on end, but I kept pressing the keys in a zombie trance. The music was from another generation and I was nineteen and stretched out on an olive drab cot with my hands behind my head while I listened to a Beatles anthology. My rifle was loaded and propped on the cot near my head. My body armor with its hand grenades was draped over my helmet next to the rifle. The battle was less than twenty-four hours away and I could feel a churning in my stomach and I understood that things were about to change, that my life would be different in twenty-four hours. The volume was set at maximum, my only escape from the moment.
I escaped to a place that was my own; I ran through my mind at full speed and knew that the place I traveled to was different than where the other Marines lying on cots were going. The CD player had been a gift from my mother when I was in high school. I used to have to take the public bus home after school, but sometimes I would spend my bus money on french fries and walk the two miles back to my house. The CD player would sing my soundtrack and I would look at the orange groves and the light the sun was casting, silhouetting their perfect columns and files and I would inhale the southern California sea air. I knew I was young and was excited about growing up. My backpack was always weighed down with the books I never read and a folder with assignments I never completed. On the face of the CD player I had ripped up and rearranged a sticker that once read “Skate Street" changing it to “Eat Trees."
The artillery pieces were positioned a few hundred feet from where I rested. They cracked off all night, killing people miles away. The room would shake and there was not enough volume in the world to drown out that racket. As I listened to my Beatles CD I could hear something that spoke to the core of my soul. It would be impossible to explain the feeling unless you have ever taken LSD. I could hear every note and the gravity of these notes moved me, and when I heard the lyrics I understood that what the Beatles had captured was youth, and my heart broke into a million pieces and came back together and I wondered what was waiting on the other side of the barbed wire. The artillery pumped rounds into the city, killing people miles away, and I listened to the Beatles. That was the last night that every member of my platoon slept in the same area alive. I hoped to the music that we would be spared, that I would be spared.