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  • Writer's pictureB.A. Simmons

A Tribute to Veterans

Despite the fact that much of the Archipelago Series dwells on war and fighting, I have always tried to demonstrate the reality of war's brutal and sadistic nature. It is not something to glorify or take pleasure in. An example of this comes in book one of the series, The Voyage of the Entdecker:

"A few of them split off to make a quick search of the rubble and dilapidated rooms on each side of the parade ground. As Rob entered a room on the left, he was startled to find a man there. He sat on the ground facing the entrance, a sword in his right hand and the shattered remains of a shield on his left. His legs were covered with blood from shrapnel wounds.

Rob suddenly felt pity for the man. Blood spilled from the soldier’s mouth as he coughed and looked up at the intruding enemy. He tried to lift his shield in an effort to better protect himself. It was with great effort and grit that Rob lifted his own spear and thrust it into the man’s throat. In a few seconds, the man had bled out. His mind told him it was a mercy killing. The man would not have survived his wounds anyhow. But in his heart, Rob was sickened by what he had just done. "

My views on war may be seen as contradictory to my views on veterans. While war is something horrible, a plague on humanity that I wish we could avoid, those that fight in war are heroes. To take action in battle, defending yourself and your comrades, your country and your homes, is glorious. Taking up arms and being willing to sacrifice your life in service to your country is an honor that few can supersede.

I have the privilege of knowing several veterans. Both my grandfathers served, one in the Army Aircorp during World War II, the other in the Navy. A couple of my uncles, some cousins, two of my brothers, two brothers-in-law and many friends and colleagues are numbered in the ranks of the currently serving or veteran military. All who have served honorably deserve more recognition and gratitude than I can give; however it is my younger brother of whom I wish to write.

Staff Sergeant Stephen Simmons of Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd PIR, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. He is the inspiration for the character of Edward, captain of the mercenary group known as the Punishers, who first appears in The Hellhound Consortium. What little I know of my brother's exploits in combat, combined with the reverence I have for all veterans, compels me as a writer to show this side of war. the side where honor and dignity still matter.

Men and women who face the horrors and difficulties of war combat and maintain their humanity, are owed more respect than we, as a society, tend to give them. They have not just survived war, but come from it with an insight few people can understand. Man's inhumanity toward man at its fullest is only seen in war. To experience this and still hold your humanity, is a herculean feat.

These veterans serve us without much thanks or compensation from our government or most of our citizenry. Yet, as I do not wish to get political here, let me just say that I'm sure we all know a veteran or two. Reach out to them today and throughout the years to come and thank them for their service and sacrifice.

Recently, the community I work in suffered a tragic loss. Major Brent Taylor, Mayor of North Ogden, Utah, was killed in Afghanistan. This event brought back to my mind a time just over ten years ago when I learned that nine soldiers from Chosen Company had been killed in Afghanistan. Without direct contact from my brother, I did not know, but I feared that Stephen was among those nine. My family was blessed that he was not, though all nine were friends of his.

My heart goes out to the Taylor family and I am proud of the North Ogden community for the support they're giving. This is what America ought to be. A nation that hates war, but reveres those who fight for us. This is what I want my readers to understand from how I depict war in my stories.

Staff Sergeant Stephen Simmons (on the right) with two fellow Punishers in Afghanistan.

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