Community Stories. Get Inspired, Get Underlined

Participation Medal

By @MeaningfulMee

Participation Medal

Participation medal 

That day,

The wind could have cried as loud as the dying boys on that battlefield.

For in that moment, I could not hear a thing. 

Not a single sound.

I thought you were safe, you know.

November 11th it was.

It was over. 

The war was over.

So come on girls, get the boys’ beds made. 

Make a space on the fireplace for the medals.

Me and the other mothers could breathe once more.

You know, every time I heard the doorbell I was scared to the core. 

It must be terrifying on the front line but my god it is paralyzing from the sidelines.

But for that moment we all thought our boys had been given a lifeline.

Ignorance is bliss.

I know that now.

I had your bed made up,

I had the space on the fireplace ready,

Ready to take you back.

I could hear your laugher echoing through the orchard.

Remember when you and your brother would play out there well into the night.

Then you’d come in covered in muck and blood, while he would come back without a scratch.

You were always trying to impress him.

Would risk life and limb, to prove something to him.

I never understood what exactly it was you were trying to prove. 

Remember that time you took home the bluebird with the broken wing.

You kept him in a shoebox under your bed so that I wouldn’t know, 

Of course, I knew.

You cared for it for weeks until it was no longer weak.

It could have flown away but it choose to stay.

Flying around the orchard, chirping as you went out to play. 

That was all down to you and your golden heart. 

I thought I could have that again,

Would have that again.

The joy of your soul and bright-eyed smile.

I thought the next time I opened the door would be the time I got to hold you tight,

take my baby boy home.

I thought wrong, didn’t I?

You never know the damage a piece of paper and a man dressed all proper can do,

Until it is done.

You never know how fast brightly coloured frocks and celebratory drinks can turn to black dresses and white roses on a grave.

A grave for a boy too young to truly understand life’s blessings,

A grave for a boy far too young to die. 

A mother should never have to bury a son.

But that is the sacrifice we must make for war.

For what?

“It’s over now.”

But why did it have to start in the first place?

One man gets shot,

And just cos he is royal, 

Millions of boys have to fall down dead.

They tell me we have won, 

But what have we won?

Can someone please tell me what we have won?

I don’t see how we have won,

When half the boys in the village will never be coming home.

On the bright side though.

You got that medal.

Your participation medal. 

Wanted one ever since you saw your brothers.

If I had known how far you would have gone to get one,

I’d have flung it in the fire before your eyes.

A ribbon is not worth a life.

They tell me to be proud.

Proud of what exactly?

The fact that this world values medals over souls.

Let’s hope they learnt their lesson,

Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again.

Join the conversation

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry
Post a comment
0 Likes 0 Comments
Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

Become a Book Nerd

When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.

By clicking Sign Up, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House's
Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.