A Life Worth Living

(Enters latrine with two others. He looks around nervously to make sure the room is completely empty and none is in earshot before closing the door securely.)

It’s not trolley cars, dammit, it’s machine guns! The parts we are making in this factory are for the MG-42 burp guns. We have a choice – we can go along with what we are told and make parts for the very machine guns being used to wipe out our men or we can take a stand and maybe save some lives.

(Lowers voice)

Whatever we do, we cannot let them know that we know, but somewhere out there American soldiers, like us, are being slaughtered by the weapons we helped create.  I know that it is easier to do nothing and follow orders, but what does one life mean when thousands are being killed.  Every life we save will justify the risk we take.  Our lives at present seem precarious.  Some days, rations are so thin we can’t help but concoct dreams of the perfect meal. As poor as conditions are, though, if we are caught, I can assure you they will not be merciful.  Except for the possibility of liberation, no one survives the punishment of hard labor. (Pause) While this is not the way any of us envisioned this situation unfolding, for me there is only one option.

When we joined the Army, we promised to defend our country.  We may be prisoners, but that doesn’t change the mission. This is not about our loved ones or our own lives; it is about the future of our country, and I will defend it at all costs.  To give up now is to give up all we have fought for up to this point, and all that we have been through will be for nothing. We were trained for nine long months to fight, but we never even had a chance. Our first battle - ambushed and captured.  Shamed… Now look at us. Killing our own. That’s not what I signed up for.  

There are many who would say that the virtuous thing to do would be to save our own lives, return to America, and take care of our families.  Maybe I’ll feel differently if things go badly, but no one lives forever.  The only moment in life that counts is the present. Any wasted moment is regrettable; so every opportunity to make a meaningful difference in one’s own life and the lives of others must be seized.  I have lived a full life.  What the hell is the reason for being alive if it is only to follow the rules and keep oneself fed in order to go on following the rules, and so on till we die anyway.

(Long pause)

Since there is no past and no future, there is no more postponing.  I will not be satisfied with a promise to myself that I will take action tomorrow.  It must start today.  Every second counts.