Off the last metal step and down to the old concrete,

On the surface of the moon, my own giant leap.

No longer gritty black and white photographs,

As time and space now closed to an organic and gritty level.

And the gravity of history settled crossing the tarmac.

The different sun on my neck,

Smelling the different air,

And looking across a different sea.

My eyes met with barren peace,

Dotted with rusty skeletons of yesterday,

The only testament to what happened here.

Roar of death's angels, clatter of gore, thunder of destruction,

A cacophony of deafening sound still wakes broken heroes.

Survivors stood about, their minds in a different year,

Their haunted eyes scanning familiar terrain,

They didn't see black sand, tall grass, or scrubby trees,

Only the faces of their fallen brothers.

Their hearts spilled a lifetime of tears and I could not weep.

They returned to lay internal wounds to rest,

I was meeting this life-changing place for the first time.

Solemnly overlooking the beaches of Hell,

The sands as black as the death they witnessed,

As fine as the number of lives lost.

I recalled the Burning Bush while onto the blackness,

Should I remove my boots on this sacred ground?

The sand felt light in my hand, spilled through my fingers,

But old brass tubes buried in it remained in my hand,

Weighing as much as each life taken with them,

And more on the hearts of those who ejected them.

I descended into the caverns of forgotten valor,

Mess tins with metal chopsticks still in them, rice long gone,

Helmet on the floor, rotting chrysanthemums in the corner.

The idea that men chose to "heroically" destroy themselves,

Such a thought is incredibly haunting.

In remembrance, I ascended to the climax of patriotism.

In awe, I stood atop the mountain of historic decisiveness.

In shock, I stared at the spot where one moment was etched,

The hearts and minds of millions across generations changed.

In gratitude, I saluted the dogtags of those who had preserved freedom.