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The Lost Generation
“After the dust settled and everything cleared, all we could see were bodies covering the lawn of what used to be our school. Every few yards or so we would be able to glimpse a patch of grass or trodden earth that was not covered by a fallen comrade but the spaces were few and too far between. It took several days to sort through the remains of the battle but it seemed an eternity, as if we were Atlas, condemned with an irrepressible weight on our shoulders that only grew as we turned over yet another recognizable face, or, even worse, when the sight that greeted our eyes was such that we were unable to keep down our food.
“The hardest part of clearing the battlefield had been the cold, lifeless gazes of our friends, for many had died with their eyes open in terror. The sight caused more than one of us to go mad. It didn’t take us too long to realize that to keep our sanity it was required that we close the eyes of the corpses before looking at their faces, at their pale and gaunt cheeks, their muscles contorted into an expression of blame aimed entirely at us, the living.
“We survivors pillaged and picked our way through the dead, searching for anything we could send back to relatives, friends, or just remembrances to bury with the dead. Inconsequential items such as hairpins and ribbons, belts and shoelaces, suddenly became important and we didn’t want to rest until every last item was reunited with its former owner—it had become our duty, one we had placed upon ourselves, and one we accomplished with the utmost sincerity.
“It was not until the last body had been taken care of, every wayward object given a home, that we finally understood what had happened and what our jobs had really meant. It was then we realized we were lost.
“Everything we had known, everything we had been privileged to know and to grow up in or around had been destroyed in the war. Homes and towns had been leveled, leaving nothing except smoldering ruins and ashes of the deceased. We sat on the steps that day, oblivious to everything except each other and our undetermined futures that would be insignificant in comparison to what we had already tackled. Our lives lay before us, yet all we could think of was the past, of how our best friends were gone, never to laugh and copy our homework again. Most of our professors had died in the war as well, leaving no one to teach those for whom we had saved the world and secured a tomorrow; yet, it was not a brighter one, for how could it be brighter without those we had grown up with, laughed and cried with?
“Many of us broke down on that last day together. The strain of years at war and in fear had finally taken their toll. I think it was the death of our friends, and even those acquaintances with whom we weren’t exactly familiar, but missed nonetheless, that finally made a few of us crack. Of course, it varied on how we responded. Some wept, some, bless them, laughed at the ridiculous irony of it all, and others, like myself, merely sat. A select few left in their refusal to accept the outcome and were never heard from again. I know at least two of that number committed suicide, unable to live with the guilt and unassuming stares of the dead in their sleep.
“The dead did not truly die that day; they lived on in our memories and dreams. They accused us of surviving, but worst of all they accused us of not fulfilling our potentials and living wasted lives, squandering our existences while their corpses lay in graves beneath the earth never to breathe or love again. However, it was the guilt of living and going nowhere that killed many of us so young. There is nothing worse than merely existing without passion, love, or emotion. It had become a chore to open our eyes in the morning and take a breath of air; it pained us to see the sky rise over the horizon and remind us of yet another day we were blessed. For it had become a curse, not a blessing, to live in the shadows, be called heroes, and yet yearn for the life we had before.
“The few of us that survived did not keep in touch for fear of blaming each other as we blamed ourselves and as the dead blamed the living. So much blame has lasted decades, and I fear it shall last many more. We are the lost generation. Lost in a sea of misery and ineptness, lost to the world we once knew and lost to the world that has continued to beat, pulse, and exist despite us.
“And I am one of them, a member of the lost generation, for so many of us perished during the war, our bodies desecrated and destroyed past all recognition of even the most attentive lover, that we became one. We knew the names and faces of those with which we had shared our lives, but nothing of their fates beyond death. Thus we adopted them—their mannerisms and their expressions, their desires, fears, joys, and most of all, their hopes and dreams of a brighter future where citizens are not afraid of their neighbors and school children are not recruited to fight the wars of their fathers. We adopted them so that they would stop accusing us.
“They live on, yet we, the living, are lost to time as their bodies have been lost to the earth. We are they, they are we, and to try and separate the two would destroy us all. We carry their burdens and secrets through time because there is no one else willing, and, by doing so, become lost to ourselves, indistinguishable from those we remember and the people we believe we had once been in a more innocent and carefree time. Our generation is one of epics, heroes, and legends, yet we are doomed until the end of our days because of the atrocities we have been witness to and the crimes we have so willingly committed. As such, we live our lives, intertwined, until such a day we can return our adopted dispositions, separate ourselves once more, and discover that which we were meant to be. However, it is until the day the last one of us comes home that we will be lost.”
End of The Lost Generation
What would you think of me now,
so lucky, so strong, so proud?
I never said thank you for that,
now I'll never have a chance.
May angels lead you in.
Hear you me my friends.
On sleepless roads the sleepless go.
May angels lead you in.
“Hear You Me”
Jimmy Eat World