Letter to the English Soldier
who I killed at the battle of Monte Longdon
The following letter was written by an Argentine officer who participated in the battle of Mount Longdon, Falkland Islands, during the 1982 war between England and Argentina. He wrote it on the twentieth anniversary of the battle on the advice of his psychologist. At the time he was a young lieutenant, and retired as a Lt. Colonel.
Mendoza, Argentina, after the war
TO THE ENGLISH SOLDIER†††††
As soldiers we were both prepared to defend the interests of our countries. Unfortunately our interests did not coincide; consequently, we each had to represent our country, millions of our countrymen, and it was in this confrontation we both participated, we were the gladiators of our civilization. We are the result of the lack of dialogue, understanding and tolerance of our statesmen.
Although thatís what weíre for, after 1982, in our lives there is a before and an after the war, at least it is so for us. Although the armed forces of the fatherland are for this, it is also true that the responsibility to defend it applies to all citizens of our societies, and for that reason we were face to face.
Our experience in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) was as hard as yours; we were waiting for you on a fixed spot, seeking the way to cause the most enemy casualties, and you were trying to cause the most casualties among us. In practicing to be a soldier the most important element is the final attack on the enemy positions and the assault on defensive positions, which means that you had the worst of it. I can imagine what that attack meant for you, it must have been very difficult to throw yourselves at our positions, knowing that the possibility of being left behind (dead or wounded) was very great. Nevertheless, I saw how you advanced through the mined field and how the anti-personnel mines blew up your soldiers; courage was needed to walk over death. I saw how our bullets perforated the bodies of our adversaries. I saw you fall, hit by the fire from my machine gun and those of my soldiers. I saw how the British naval and land artillery pounded our positions and how the earth shook our bodies with every explosion. The luminous tracers from automatic weapons that came and went formed a roof that I could never have imagined; reality is superior to the fiction of the cinema.
Previous to the combat between us two, while you were advancing, I tried to keep up a maximum of fire in a desperate attempt to avoid you reaching us. We knew it was a matter of life and death. As I human being and a Christian, I cannot feel proud of having killed, I was only carrying out my mission. What I didnít know was that after surviving the combat, for the rest of my life I would carry the cross and the heartís pain of those moments.
Soldier: even those who knew you best did not know your suffering during those last minutes, nor did they know of your valor. You knew that you were going to die, but you kept advancing anyway. Only your comrade who was beside you and survived saw, and I, who caused and saw your fall.
One of the things I wanted to tell you is that I can never forget those violent moments, or your valor, because you gave the most precious thing to your country. My greatest respect goes to your act and I will always feel your familyís pain.
Although the inner war continues for the veteran, I always wanted to express my feelings to you and it only occurred to me that it would happen in Buenos Aires or London, with flowers and my remembrance of your death. I understand that fate wanted it to happen and God provides norms for humanity, but we humans often do things that are hard to understand, like the combat in which we fought each other. I was wounded by your comrades, but God didnít want me to accompany you at that moment. If the facts were reversed, I am sure that you would feel the same way that I now feel and that you would never be able to forget those moments and that you would forever feel the pain in your soul that is felt when one decides about the life and death of others.
May God accompany you in your rest,†††††† †††
A soldier of Monte Longdon†††††† †††