Small Wars Journal

The Other Side of the Wall

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The Other Side of the Wall

Keith Nightingale

Walls are physical and mental.  Grunts know them both.

Walls can be reduced by time or the physics of destruction.

It depends upon the nature of the wall and the person behind it.

Some are of stone and steel, others more emotional and imaginative.

Each defies both effort and logic.

What awaits?

I know.  I have seen and been there.

So many walls.  So many times.

Some have already gone to the other side.

I hear them.

I know them.

I will cross the wall.  I can.  I must.

Crossing the walls of substance and senses.

Crossing has consequences.

Who I know and needs me is on the other side.

My enemy of time and memory also awaits, on the other side of the wall.

I can wait for dark.  That may help. Or not.

That may be too late. 

Dark has consequences.

I will be lost.  I cannot see the others.  Only myself.

They need help.  They need me.  Now.

If I cross, I will have consequences.

If I don’t, I cannot be part of them. The worst of consequences.

They are why I am here.  On the other side of the wall.

Always here. Always there. On the other side of the wall.

I must cross.  They need me.

Damn the consequences.  I am going.

Always consequences.

War always has walls.

Grunts are always behind it.

Grunts cross the wall.

Some go no farther.  Some stay forever. Crossing the wall.

In the dark of night, when alone, I cross the wall and remember.

A man once wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

He never knew the walls I lay behind.

Crossing has consequences.

Walls shelter, but they cannot secure.

Against the other side of the wall.

About the Author(s)

COL Nightingale is a retired Army Colonel who served two tours in Vietnam with Airborne and Ranger (American and Vietnamese) units. He commanded airborne battalions in both the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 82nd Airborne Division. He later commanded both the 1/75th Rangers and the 1st Ranger Training Brigade.