Brave Soldier





I pull from the basket Lilly Annabelle Switzer’s name. I can already guess which story she is going to choose. Lillian has a twin brother and every year they dress up as a little dancer and tin soldier, fake musket in hand. 

Lilly bounces toward the stage in her red satin dress, twirling around until she is standing in the middle of the stage.

“Hi, Mayor!” she shouts excitedly. “I know what I want to do! My brother and I want to hear The Brave Tin Soldier!!!”

At first I am slightly nervous the Odense Library Association won’t be able to pull this story off. In my opinion, this is a fairly intense story. They announce to the crowd that for this story the style will be slightly different. A man and a women, each holding a pen and paper, assemble on each end of the stage. Then the story begins...

~~~

Journal Entry – April 25

My parents are in complete disarray. I finally told my parents I joined the army, following in my father's foot steps.  My sweet, delicate mother stood sobbing in my dad’s arms; however, my father’s response told a different story. I could see pride in his eyes, but maybe something else… Was it fear? 

I’ve finally told them the secret I have been keeping from them since my 18th birthday a few months ago. I told them I enlisted in the army, just like my dad. It’s my turn to make my family proud. 

Andrew



Dear Diary, 

It's finally here. Today is the last day I will walk through my parents' house. So many memories are running wild in my head. Memories of when I was a child, playing with my younger brother and sister, always tending to their needs. Whether it was treating a scratch or just being there to hold and comfort them, I was there. 

Now that I am of age, I am able to fulfill my dreams of becoming a nurse. I have always felt this was where I was meant to be. I am filled with anxiety and fear, but also a sudden excitement and duty to make a difference for our country and for the men who serve.

Lana



Journal Entry – June 29

We’ve arrived. Our bus ride extended late into the night putting us at the camp around midnight. In the distance I heard subtle sounds and vibrations from nearby bombs, whistling sounds coming closer still…My first task tonight was to bring water to the nurses tent and that’s when I saw her. Lana…one of the nurses. I know I came here to serve my country, but what if it was to meet her too? I spoke to her and that's when I noticed the cross hanging from her neck. It's identical to the one I was given at birth. I feel a special connection and a draw to her.

Andrew

Union Soldier
(Source: Flickr)



Dear Diary, 

My first day on the campsite was wonderful, but also slightly intimidating. Several women have been here since the start a few years ago. I have so much to learn and I wonder if I will ever catch up. I met someone today… he brought water inside our tent this evening. His eyes… well,they were the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. And the way his blonde wavy hair sat under his hat… I’m hoping to see him tomorrow.

Lana 



Journal Entry,

I saw Lana again today. Every time I see her and spend time with her I feel alive again. I feel like I have found my reason for living… the reason I’m on this Earth. I think I want to spend my forever with her. After the war, I’m going to ask her to marry me. I'm going to see her again tomorrow. But I have this feeling one of the other soldiers is aware of our relationship. He made a statement today about not taking things or people that do not belong to me. My only thought is that he found out Lana and me. 

Andrew



Dear Diary, 

I love him. I’m positive I will never find another person like him. Today we spent an entire afternoon together... just talking about anything and everything. I've never been able to talk to someone so openly before. He understands me in a way no one ever has before. He’s leaving tomorrow to head into the field tomorrow with twenty-four others. Thankfully I will get to see him before he goes. I don’t know what I will do if something happens to him. 

Lana



Dear Diary,

It’s been two days. There’s been no word from him or the other twenty-four men. Every day without him makes it harder to breathe. When I get lonely I play with my cross necklace around my neck. It seems to draw me closer to him. 



Dear Diary, 

"Farewell, warrior! ever brave, 

Drifting onward to thy grave."

~~~



Instead of just applause, tears were flowing from many of the townspeople. Lilly stood wiping her tears on her sleeve. “Thank you everyone! That was perfect.”

After I offer Lilly my hand to help her down the stairs, it’s time to pick the very last name.



Author’s Note: I chose this story mainly because of the title which inspired me to tell a different type of "soldier" story. It got me curious because of the word tin and it made me think of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz movie. In the real story the tin soldier is actually one of 25 toy soldiers. At the time of the tin soldier’s creation, there was not enough tin to complete the toy so he was left with only a leg. In the plot there are other toys and things laid out around the room, including a dancing paper girl. The tin soldier is completely enthralled by her, but not just because of her beauty. He takes notice of her because she only stands on one leg. To the tin soldier, this fact puts he and the dancer on equal playing fields and he falls in love with her. Shortly afterwards a toy realizes how the tin soldier feels and tells him that he shouldn't want things that are not his. That next day the tin soldier falls out the window. A few kids see the tin soldier and decide to play with him. They make a makeshift boat and send him floating down the street and down the gutter. He eventually ends up inside the mouth of a fish which is then caught and sliced open. A human woman sees the tin soldier and he eventually ends up back in the same room with the dancer. One of the children who played with him earlier notices the soldier and throws him in the stove where he begins to melt. When the door in the room opens, the draft of wind sends the dancing women into the stove also. They die in the flames together. This is the part where I added the phrase "farewell, warrior! ever brave, drifting onward to they grave", which was in the original story. It was the one thing that caught my eye from the beginning. I wanted to keep a few of the same elements that this story had because I am in love with love, but I also liked the role that sadness and despair played in the story. 



Bibliography: The Brave Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen in 1838.