By Harry Markowicz
Four years go by before I see another British soldier. The last one had been near the French-Belgian border when the British Expeditionary Force was being evacuated from the nearby beaches at Dunkirk. Again I’m with my mother. Before leaving the apartment she has told me that the Germans have run away but I don’t understand where we are going and why my father is not coming with us. She tries to explain to me it has been two years since he has been outside and he is not ready to face people. Along the way, many people are rushing in the same direction. My mother too is in a hurry but we pass a burning tank and I stop to look at it. No one else pays any attention but I’m fascinated by the flames rising from the turret. My mother pulls me away and we merge with the people who are passing by us. We arrive in a park where we join a large crowd of cheering people.
I look around me uncomprehendingly but I sense that my world has changed. I’m vaguely aware of a column of tanks stopped in the lanes of the park with soldiers and many cheerful and smiling civilians milling around them. My mother leads me toward a British soldier standing high up on a tank and looking down at us. We don’t share a language so the communication is nonverbal. My mother picks me up and hands me into the soldier’s extended arms which are reaching down for me. The soldier lifts me up easily and holds me in his arms with his friendly smiling face close to mine. I look down at my mother and she tells me to give him a kiss. I kiss him on the cheek and then look down at her again. Tears are streaming down her cheeks and I become alarmed. Unlike me, the soldier seems to understand her reaction; he continues to smile. Through her tears my mother tries to reassure me that she is alright. She tells me that they are tears of happiness, something I have not experienced before in my seven years, and it leaves me confused.
©2011, Harry Markowicz. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.