Started out believing glory was in the participation. All my high school buddies were joining up. Flags were planted on lawns, yellow ribbons tied on trees—it was a time to stand up and be the best you could be.

Death surrounds me standing in a mire of faces now distorted by pain, missing limbs, flag emblems blackened on blood spattered uniforms, once crisp and clean, worn with pride. Confusion abounds.

Tomorrow it will begin again. All remnants of patriotic ideals are now shattered.