• Member Since 11th Nov, 2017
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Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do study history are doomed to watch other people repeat it.

T

In the wake of the Friendship Journal debacle, Princess Twilight Sparkle receives an unexpected visitor in the form of a scarred war veteran. He has a story to share with her, one which will give both insight into the nature of good, evil, and gratitude.

War is a dread and terrible thing, and those that suffer through it emerge changed. But the grimness of war is not the end.


Dedicated to those who have served and continue to serve in the Armed Forces. For any veterans living with trauma, I've placed a link here for the veteran helpline. There is no shame in needing to talk to someone.


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Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 29 )

Thank you for this, and I want you to know that I have very wet eyes at the moment from reading this. It is a wonderful story, and a great tribute to, not just our own fighting men and women here in the US, but to all the military services everywhere across this humble blue earth of ours.

From Valley Forge, to Flanders Fields, to the deserts of Iraq, we owe them all so very much.

It brings a lump in the throat to me especially, as I, too, have family in the US military, both past and present, that I am so very proud of them all.
One of whom who is my younger cousin, and who is now one of "The Few, the Proud, the Marines".
Hunter, wherever you are at this moment, be safe and be well, Marine.

I also had family who served in WWII, in all theaters, and I know of three especially who were aboard that venerable Lady, the USS Arizona, on that horrible "Day of Infamy" on December 7, 1941, and who, like many of their shipmates, went down with her, and as far as we currently know, their mortal remains still rest buried deep within the hull of the great ship and Lady that they all loved.

Rest well, cousins. You served your country well and faithfully.
Rest in Honored Slumber, Arizona, you great Lady.

And indeed, God bless, and God bless our troops.
May they all come home soon.

8549081
I got a little choked up seeing how moved you were. Thank you. I gotta admit that I'm nervous whenever I put something like this out there because I want to do right by the soldiers who have given so much fighting for freedom throughout history. I want to honor them properly, but since I haven't served myself, anything I write is based on my interpretation of what I've read or observed. Made my day to hear that you think I did right.

8549766 You're very welcome.

And you did a wonderful job, as far as I'm concerned.
On all counts.

Well done.

You have honored them more then everyone I have seen up to this point. It is stories like this that move me in a way few things can. This story is the best I have read in a long time, and vary inspiring. You are truly an author unmatched (In my opinion) by anyone, so please, continue to write stories like this.

I must thank you for this emotionally well written look into what our country is about. It has made my day.

You've written a wonderful piece of story. A wonderful message, relatable characters, a nice built-up, and a great resolution. After finished reading this, my eyes were still dry but my heart tremble from the emotion and the powerful moral. You've inspired and reminded not only about servicemen sacrifices everywhere but also a whole point of love and respect.
For the story and message, I kindly thank you.
Whitewolf is right.
Well done.

8549984
This sort of reaction is exactly why I do this kind of thing. I can't serve, so I use what talent I have to try to honor those who can as best as I am able. I do plan on playing around with a number of military fics (plus some more lighthearted fare), which I hope to start posting chapters of relatively soon, work permitting. Your praise helps motivate me to get off my keister and do it. Thank you.

WHOS CUTTING ONIONS

You've done well, my friend.

Such a pretty story. The U.S. Armed Forces have so many heroes that we just don't see, and then show up with their scars and tales, and all we really can do in return is thank them for their service. This story reminded me a lot of that one great movie American Sniper. You know, the one that touched the hearts of practically every person who saw it, military or not. This is quite moving for a stubborn boy who reads war fics.

Just like we have our heroes, the ponies of Equestria have their own. Assuming that the Star of Valor is their equivalent to the Medal of Honor, Hightower must've done something beyond. Unless it's like the Purple Heart, in which case, it fits better. Yeah, it's probably like the Heart.

As someone raised in a Navy family, it's a bit easier for me to appreciate their sacrifices. My dad and uncle are currently serving, and their dad retired after 20 years. My mom left after a few years to raise my siblings and me. I know a lot of people from the U.S. Navy clan.

I vaguely know the stories of the Indianapolis, Arizona, and other well-known warships. I thought those stories were moving enough.

Then I watched Saving Private Ryan. I watched The Pacific. I watched American Sniper. I read Tomb of the Fallen. I read this.

Each step of the way, I learned that there's always a more moving story. That no matter what you've seen, something new will touch your heart in ways you never thought possible.

Thank you for this story.

8555971
Hearing this sort of response is why I do this. I can't serve. So I write about those that do. It's hopelessly inadequate, but the best I can do. Your family and their comrades are really the ones who deserve the thanks.

As far as the Star of Valor, I did intend it to be effectively the Medal of Honor. The equivalent of the Purple Heart I intended to be among the other medals on this chest...which I just now realized I forgot to mention. Thanks for pointing that out. Better fix that. Originally I'd planned to go into the story of how he earned the Star, but I decided the main focus of the story ought to be on him coming to grips with what had happened. The closest I have to it is his passing mention of holding off an overwhelming force with grenades and stubbornness, which is somewhat reminiscent of real live Medals of Honor recipients Sgt Beauford Anderson and Cpl Charles Kelly.

I want to thank you for this story. When I came home from my time in the USAF, I, much like Hightower, found a very different place waiting for me from when I left. Although I never saw combat (as an aircraft armament systems technician, if I ever did, things had horribly gone wrong at that point), I know exactly how he felt, as I was much in the same place as him. Military service changes you, no matter what, and that was something that every member of my family noticed upon my return. It wasn't a very good change, overall, and I spent many years in self-imposed sequester just to get a handle on the vast difference everything in my home had become. Old friends gone or very different, all of my family having become something I barely recognized, and even the cities and towns I used to hang out in having been redeveloped. Worse yet, was the fact that I had become a very bitter and resentful person, and my already difficult time in dealing with people had become worse while I was in.

I spent four years shutting myself away from everything because I couldn't trust myself around anyone or anything, because like Hightower, I had come to resent everything I saw, and those were probably the most depressing years of my life. The most alone years of my life. It was only by the grace of my grandmother that I even had a place to live, and to whom I'm forever grateful for. She was the only one who seemed to never change, only getting older.

Ironically, just like Hightower, the adventures of those colorful mares we all know and love slowly helped me to work through (a significant chunk of) my anger, paranoia, and angst over the massive disparity and discrepancies that plagued me, as well as help me to overcome a lot of my social anxiety that had built up over the years. Eventually, I even managed to calm down enough to get a job and start working on slowly trying to reintegrate back into society a little. It's still very much a struggle, but these ponies have certainly helped me along a lot in terms of finding new friends, as well as reconnecting with old ones.

They're not very good at finding a girlfriend, though. We can't all bat 1.000, unfortunately...

Long story short, thanks for this story. And thanks for being someone who's taken a good, hard look at something that plagues us service people often, but is just as often lost in all the sales and weekend BBQs that happen around a day set aside for us.

8559035
God bless you and thank you for this service. It means a lot to know that this spoke to you. You and your fellow soldiers are why I write. I'm grateful to be able to help in some small way. Know that no matter how much things change, there are always good things and good people to find, even if there are years where it doesn't seem like it. I've struggled with depression at times and know how grey the world can seem, but in a way I'm grateful for it because it has given me empathy for other people who struggle with depression, anger, and frustration. In this I have learned that the grey can be transformed into colors if we let it. I just want to share that insight with people.

From a veteran to you: Thanks for this story! I still have trouble dealing with Civvies but there is a great lesson told here. One that I hope to internalize and see if it can help me move forward as well. Fav'd!

8575630
I'm glad you got something from this, and it's always good to know that a veteran likes this story. Since I'm a civilian myself, the best I can do is to try to craft a narrative based on what others have told me, and it's always a little nerve-wracking to put something like this out there where actual veterans will see it. Thank you for the feedback; it helps me know how to write similar things in the future. And, above all, thank you and God bless you for your service.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.~Ronald Reagan
Thank you for honoring those veterans who have sacrificed life and limb to keep others safe and free.
God bless our troops.
God bless America.

...This hit a nerve, but in a good way.
I come from a long military tradition. One of my earliest ancestors, English Civil War. Clan was even part of the final siege to enforce the Magna Carta. The grandson of my first ancestor to "jump the pond", French and Indian into Revolutionary war and managed to survive the chaos after. My great-great-great grandfather, Mexican-American into Civil War when the second kicked up during retirement. My great-great-grandfather, Spanish American War and met my great-grandmother in Cuba. My great-grandfather, World War 1, jumped the border into Canada to get into the mayhem early. Grandfather was WW2's Pacific and stuck around into the Korean war after putzing around China before Mao took over. My father toured multiple times in Air Force combat rescue, both abroad and with homefront disasters like hurricanes. He was and still is my hero. But, I was barred from it. I'm not troubled by it, not now at least. My father had his reasons, reasons I see ring true in this story. But at the time, I felt like a coward and a traitor. Here they were, people who'd done things I couldn't understand nor experience myself to try to. They gave so much and kept on paying for it even when they returned that I felt poor and ungrateful by comparison.

It reminded me, especially in the author's notes, I'm not a coward or a traitor for not filing into it. I can respect those who gave so much, my fellow man and woman. From the bottom of my heart, bless you. Bless you. You've done a great service to those who've served themselves.

May any deity a troop bows the knee too bless them, and may you receive the best tidings you can this coming season.

8594088
Much appreciated. God bless you as well.

Moved me to tears. I’ve got lots of family that went into the military, and though I don’t plan to enlist myself, I have nothing but respect for those who do.
Thank you for this story. I will do my best to live well.

8815180
Glad you found it moving. I consider that a win. :ajsmug:

Reading this again was just as worth it the first time... And just as inspiring. On a side note, I want to write a book titled 'The Price of Freedom'. If you have interest in helping with it and have Discord, add me.

Ennelly Von Swortts#0976

9214546
I don't have discord; sorry. And, regrettably, I probably wouldn't be able to take on another full project right now anyway. That being said, I'm available as a sounding board for ideas conceptual editing via this site's messenger and I have a lot of resources at my fingertips, so I'd be interested in helping. I just can't in good conscience commit to anything more than that right now. Thank you for your support of my work and for the offer. I truly wish that it was something that I devote a lot of time and energy to.

Finally.
Finally, I found a story that gets the balance right.
Finally.

Thank you for creating a veteran original character who is undeniably and unabashedly pony, and yet stands in stark contrast to the image of the utopian egalitarian Equestria without falling into the abyss of edginess. I do have to wonder whether you intended the irony of having a Color Sergeant (awesome rank name!) struggle to see the beautiful colors of the world around him again.

9366231
It's such a delight for me when people like the story that started this journey for me, and I'm glad you think that I hit that balance. Since you mentioned it, yes, the use of the rank was deliberate. I did not start the story with that in mind, but I did finish with that intended meaning. It's always a thrill for me when readers catch those little details, so thanks for brightening my day.

A new comment might be a surprise on such an old story, but I feel that I must commend you on your work. This piece seems to me to capture some of the struggles a veteran might face when returning from active service, especially in a world where he is considered, if not evil, but a wrongdoer by the very people he aims to protects. I must say that I am moved by it. Additionally, I am reminded of this quote from C.S. Lewis:

'All that we fear from all the kinds of adversity, severally, is collected together in the life of a soldier on active service. Like sickness, it threatens pain and death. Like poverty, it threatens ill lodging, cold, heat, thirst, and hunger. Like slavery, it threatens toil, humiliation, injustice, and arbitrary rule.
Like exile, it separates you from all you love. Like the gallies, it imprisons you at close quarters with uncongenial companions. It threatens every temporal evil - every evil except dishonour and final perdition, and those who bear it like it no better than you would like it'

Soldiers must face harsh and brutal conditions in order to carry out their duty as soldiers. Even more praiseworthy is the fact that they do so willingly since conscription is no longer being mandated in most modern countries.

What makes your story unique is that it shows something about the way soldiers might speak on their return. It may be easier to talk, or write, about a soldier's experience in the field (and those stories always fascinates me) but it is rare to be shown what they are like after they return from the horrors of war.

For this wonderful tale, I thank you.

P.S. I didn't realize that you invented the rank 'colour sergeant'. I thought that it was an actual rank. Good job.

9973547
Thank you for your kind words. My veteran tributes are some of my favorite stories, so I always love seeing comments on them, and this story holds a special place in my heart.

That C.S. Lewis quote is perfect, and fitting from a man who knows firsthand the horror.

As to Colour Sergeant, I actually didn't invent it. The US Army just doesn't use it anymore. It was replaced in the Marines by Gunnery Sergeant and in the Army by (I believe) Sergeant First Class. England might still use it, though I'm not positive.

9973758
Really? Colour Sergeant just fell into disuse, at least in the US. Interesting. I wonder why. Colour Sergeant seems perfectly fine.

9973872
Originally the role had to do with carrying the colors (the flag). As the role shifted, the name shifted with it.

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