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Some Peace in War

By Stan Scislowski

  On the way back to the battlefront, a soldier finds some peace.

  It is World War II and we are in Italy with Stan Scislowski in 1944.

    I remember this one day in Italy in the spring of 1944 when we were on our way back to the front after a two week or so rest  away from the terrors and misery thereof. We were sitting on the cold steel benches in the back of the Dodge 3-tonner looking glumly out onto the serene countryside, unspoiled by the fighting  that somehow had bypassed this corner of the war-torn land.  Not one of us  looked forward to our next assignment in the killing zones up there somewhere to the north. I looked out across the  fields of knee-high grass to a copse topped by two umbrella pines, and a strong  desire  came over me, a  desire to jump out and lose myself in the arms of  nature.  
    I wanted to  find myself by a rippling brook, to feel the rhythm of the clear, cold water as it bubbled and rushed over the stones and around impediments. I wanted to walk aimlessly past  farmyards and hear the mooing of cattle and the clucking of chickens as they pecked away at the ground. I wanted hear the voices and sounds of peacful times, not the cannonading of battle. I wanted to walk  along shaded country lanes, climb hills and  lie down somewhere in a cozy place and forget what  I was  sent here to do. I wanted divorce myself from reality.
    Strangely,  though my desire to do all these things were not fulfilled, I did feel an inner peace flow through me, and the gloom of the moments before we passed through the region, fell away and I emerged into the sunshine of my usual brighter self. What lay ahead, though it might be grim, failed to darken my thoughts. And while in this mood I sought to bring a little cheer to  our somber little group by singing "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine." No response immediately from my buddies around me, but a little ways down the road, one of the boys joined me, followed a few bars later with another, and then another,and pretty soon we were all singing. And things no longer seemed so dark. And in fact, the rest of the journey tø the dreaded front was spent in a more jocular mood for all of us. All because of my wanting to lose myself back there down the road a ways.


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