Pvt. Richard Graham was eager to get aboard the ship, as were the others in his company. The trip home wouldn’t be pleasant, of course, but staying would be far worse.
They stood silently at attention, waiting their turn to embark. Graham’s eyes kept straying to the various residents of the town who regarded him with hatred and disgust. Some few smirked at him and his fellow soldiers, and on occasion a youth – or an old man – would hurl a taunt in their direction.
Graham’s heart was heavy. He had been sent across the ocean by his government to do a job. It was in the vital interest of the nation, and he was proud to wear his country’s uniform.
But the job hadn’t turned out well. The enemy was supposed to have been easy to deal with. Instead, the foe showed himself far more clever and deadly than anyone had expected. He hid behind anything and everything that could give cover, launching sneak attacks, shooting, maiming, and killing, and then running away. Graham had seen both friends and respected officers die.
Then the letters came, making it clear that back home the political situation had changed. There were protests in the streets over the mission Graham and his fellow soldiers were on; it was costing too much money and too many lives, and what good was it doing? The government was in turmoil. Soldiers returning home were openly criticized for having done their duty.
Graham sighed quietly. He denied the war had been lost; the government simply discontinued it. But he was going home in disgrace to a civilian populace that would jeer at him – both for having fought the war and for not having clearly won it. There seemed to be no justice.
Finally, Graham’s company was called. He boarded the Royal Navy ship, turning his back for the last time on the city of New York and the independent United States of America.