Midshipman 2/C Daniel McCawley, U.S. Naval Academy
A Hard Heart
Who is this man who stares back at me? Who is this man whose face is hard and unmoving, marred with sweat and blood and soot? Who is this man who stares into my soul with the cold eyes of a predator? Who is this man who sees my fears and my sorrow, my sins? Who is this man on the other side of the mirror?
The bathroom trailer shakes with the loud boom of a mortar hitting right outside. The fresh holes in the wall make it brighter inside. I check myself for wounds. I'm fine.
I can hear the other Marines in my unit yelling outside. They're mounting up for another mission. Our work is never done. It's been five months and not a day of rest. I'm so tired. I'm a team leader; I have to get out there.
I dash outside and run toward my humvee. Mortar rounds and indirect fire are hitting all around us. My Marines are rushing back and forth from the ammo trailer and the humvee. We'll need all we can fit for this one.