It has been 40 years since I was last on this field. The snow storm yesterday made it look like a picture from a Christmas Card. It has been hard for me to return to the field since it brought back memories of the war. I had been assigned to help gather the bodies of my dead comrades and was to work with Joe who had been gathering the bodies since early morning.
The smell of the dead bodies is a smell that I have never forgotten. It is a sickening sweet smell that is different from any other smell. Most of the bodies were covered with flies that had been attracted by the pools of blood surrounding the bodies. The bodies that were the hardest to collect were those who had been shot in the head and parts of their brains had oozed out of the skill. Those that had been shot in the stomach also made me want to vomit since their intestines were lying outside of their bodies.
It was the near the end of the day when Joe said we have one more body to pick up He pointed to a body where a German Shepherd dog was lying with his head resting on the chest of a dead soldier. Joe said that whenever they tried to pick up the body the dog would bark and try to bit them. We walked over to the body and once again the dog raised his head and barked in defense of his human. We stood there and then I heard Joe pull out his gun and fire, the sound of the gun echoed across the field followed by the yap of the dog. I turned to Joe and saw tears running down his face as we stood there looking down at the body of the young man and his faithful dog. Joe asked two of the other soldiers who were assigned to collect bodies to take the body of the young man. Joe knelt down and with tears still running down his face picked up the dog in his arms and carried it off of the field. He laid the dog down by a young oak tree and obtained a shovel and dug a hole into which he placed the body of the dog.
Once again I look across the snow covered field and head back across the field to my car. As I walked back I passed under a large oak tree. I noticed a monument containing all of the names of the young men who had lost their lives in the field that terrible day. I brushed the snow off of the sculpture of the German shepherd dog lying on the top as if he was protecting all of those young men who had died. There was a second plaque just below the scripture of the dog which read –“This monument is dedicated In memory of those who gave their lives for us” Joe