Sixty years ago, a young man, 20, me, was leading a patrol in Germany. I came to an uncovered mine field in the street in a town on the Rhine river whose name I do not remember. I stopped at the edge of the mine field.
The lieutenant in charge of the platoon came forward. He said, "Follow me and step where I step." Lieutenants were not supposed to lead through mine fields, but he did. And the Sergeant came next and said, "Step where I steop." He he went next.
I was third. I followed carefully, but a civilian woman in a window beside the road began desperately gesturing and pointing. I looked up, thinking she's pointing us out to the enemy. Later I realized she was pointing out the mines to warn us. But for a second I was distracted.
I looked back at the ground, just in time to see my foot stepping down on an exposed mine. Then I was surrounded by the loudest noise I have ever heard. I felt myself lifted as high as my head and then felt myself fall back on the ground on my butt. That is the first thing that hurt.
"Close your eyes," someone shouted and I did, and they were filled with sand and gunpowder. I never saw my mangled foot.
My buddies carried me into an open door and reassured me that everything was going to be all right, and that my foot was just "broke real bad." They gave me a shot of morphine from the first aid kit we all carried on our rifle belts. They said, "You're going home, Ferris. You're gonna get to go home." They put me on a litter in a jeep which had been converted to an ambulance. My foot was throbbing with pain, but because of the morphine, I didn't care. And off I went to the aid station.
That was sixty years ago today.
Last night I was back in an Emergency Room for eight hours because of an infected foot. (The other one) I lay on a gurney surround by injured and ill folks. It was wait, wait, wait, all over again. Some things change a lot in sixty years, and some things don't change at all.