I will never forget him.
I was patrolling an area of this godforsaken country where fighting was at its heaviest, and I happened upon a small form right in the middle of the street. It was a little boy, no more than two or three at the most, and he was sitting there, crying piteously.
I knew the child wouldn't be safe being such an easy target, so I went against my better judgement, picked the child up in my arms, and fled to safety, praying all the way for God to keep me safe.
The child was as light as a feather. Sickly, malnourished: his limbs resembled sticks and his belly stuck out as if pregnant. No doubt it was probably crawling with worms or other parasites. My heart broke for him.
I had seen the bodies of his parents, lying in a pool of blood. Probably shot or bludgeoned to death by enemy gunfire (meaning US; we were the enemy to these people). My heart was stabbed anew when I thought that it was fellow comrades who had killed this child's parents. What would the child do when he realized that I was one of THEM: an American??
I held the little boy tightly against my chest, could feel his tiny heart hammering like sixty, feel his fast, labored breathing, as he continued to sob uncontrollably. He was crying out to his mother: although I don't speak French, I gathered that "Maman" somehow meant "Mommy". His cries were anguished, full of pain.
I felt horrible, knowing that it was my friends who had done this to this child, thus, changing his life forever. Meanwhile, I was left holding an orphaned child, unsure as what to do next.
~To be continued.~