What It Means to be Free

truck, pumpkins, flag

MorgueFile May 2018 1413924415vgvbk

Young Nate had a blast running through the cornfield and picking out pumpkins, but then the little boy saw his Grandpa standing by an American flag next to the field.

“What are you doing, Grandpa?”

“Remembering when I was your age and we kids said the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the flag every morning.”

Nate looked down if he were embarrassed.

“What’s wrong?” Grandpa put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

The fourth grader looked up at Grandpa. “Some kids at school say we should kneel instead of stand in front of the flag because of racism.”

Grandpa knelt down. “I know that our country has done bad things and we still have problems that need fixing, and if people want to kneel, that’s their right. That’s what makes America free. But it’s never been about what’s wrong with America, but about our ideals, who we are when we’re our best. I’ll always stand. People who forget that will always live in fear. The flag is a reminder of what freedom is, and when you’re free, you’re never afraid.”

The old man was kneeling in front of the flag, but only so he could hug his dear grandson.

I wrote this for Week #37 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks against our nation, and America still carries a lot of collective pain from that day. I wrote a wee fictional tale honoring the victims and those who survived them, so the feelings are still fresh within me.

I wish I had more than 200 words to express what I’m trying to say. I know that there will always be people who will kneel in front of the flag as long as they perceive there being social injustice in this nation. That’s their right as American citizens. That’s what it means to be free. But what I tried to say today echos what I recently wrote in a longer essay a few days back.

Right now, a lot of people are afraid of that guy in the White House. They’re afraid about who will be the next Supreme Court Justice. They’re afraid of a lot of things, real and imagined. But I choose not to live in perpetual fear. Yes, I get scared of things sometimes, but both my identity as an American and my faith in God help me realize that I wasn’t born to be afraid. Isaiah 43:1 says “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”

The Almighty was addressing Israel, not the people of the nations, but through faith to the King of Israel and by his merit, the rest of us can also be called children of God. Presidents are temporary. God is everlasting. If you don’t believe, that’s fine. We all negotiate our relationship with the Creator in different ways. I’m just glad I live in a country where people are free, both to kneel in front of the flag and to pray to and have faith in God. It’s the same country, and it’s the same freedom.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

P.S. Don’t forget to contribute your own story to Roger’s linkup. Thanks.

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Warriors

foot

© J. Hardy Carroll

They were just kids and they thought it was funny. He was a homeless Vietnam vet who had his foot blown off. The punks thought they were doing the world a favor by abusing him.

I found them a mile away from where they left him and made them tell me where they’d left his prosthetic.

I took it back and said he could come to my place. He asked me why. I told him that Marines have each others backs. Later that night, he stood on one good foot and one artificial one, and we both saluted the flag.

I wrote this for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count (after a lot of editing) is 100 words.

A prosthetic limb and the American Independence Day. I didn’t have to think hard to write this one. My Dad was a veteran and so is one of my sons. For their sake alone, I’ll never take the knee in front of the American flag, though I respect the right of anyone who chooses to. After all, that’s what so many have fought and died for; the right to speak their mind in a free country.

Happy Independence Day to you and yours.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The President’s Ill-Fated Proposal

tulum

Photo Credit: Popo le Chien – 13 Sept 2016 – Tulum’s Templo del Dios Viento (Temple of Wind God, left) and Castillo (castle, right)

President Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Henry Seward stood at what was called the Temple of the God of Wind at Tulum gazing northeast over the waters toward the island of Corzumel. Mexican President Benito Juarez summarily dismissed Lincoln’s proposal for American freed slaves to be relocated to that small bit of land off the Yucatan peninsula, but Seward had to see it for himself.

Lincoln was the President, and Seward did what he was told, but his conscience as a man and a Christian told him that if a man were truly free and a citizen of the United States, then his former status as slave should be wiped clean, rather than him becoming a societal pariah. If only he could convince the President of this.

The breeze in his face, Seward became a prophet. “Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and/or location as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Of course, I looked up Tulum, but consulting Google maps, I found it was fairly close to the island of Cozumel. It was a small bit of history of that island from 1861 that caught my attention, since the proposal I write about above did actually occur.

I have no idea about how the real Seward felt about it, so I made something up. Also, it seems that Lincoln did succeed briefly, in 1862, in establishing a short-lived colony of ex-slaves on Île à Vache off the coast of Haiti.

The quote I put in Seward’s mouth is attributed to author George Orwell, which would indeed have made the Secretary of State a “prophet,” since Orwell wouldn’t be born until 1903.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Prison

prison

Found at the Libertarian Republic website.

Gravity.

It’s pulling me down. I feel so heavy. I can barely stand.

No, I’m being pulled down now. I’m on my knees. Who are these creatures scampering around me? What are they doing with those chains? How come they are so light and fast when I find it so hard to move?

The weight. I’m pinned to the ground. The chains are so heavy. I can’t get free.

They’re going now, those creatures. Gremlins, gnomes, who knows what they are but they’re handy with bolts and blow torches. I’m held fast, too heavy to get off of my back.

Gravity. I’m powerless to resist it. I want to stand but I can’t. Don’t you understand, I can’t. I’m not strong enough.

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The Ascent

jump creek

Photo: Tyson White/KTVB

He’d been climbing for hours. Fortunately, he’d trained for it. Seth Minstrel was the first to get this far. He could see the tops of the jagged peaks just above him.

“I’m going to make it. I’m going to be free.”

The air was hot and humid in the valley below, the valley Seth had lived in all his life. It was the valley where generations of his people had toiled as slaves to the ruling MacGregor clan. The people grew the food, and the MacGregor’s and their thugs took half. But without the MacGregors, water wouldn’t fall down the cliffs to the south, allowing their arid valley to produce and sustain life.

The MacGregors said they should be grateful.

“Yeah, right. Grateful. You MacGregor’s have freedom and steal our food, barely allowing my people enough to eat.”

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Going Home

airport

© Dawn M. Miller

Sarah and her children had arrived at the airport by Amtrak. Against her better judgment, she’d let six-year-old Sam and four-year-old Kate order meals at the nearby McDonald’s.

They were going home, the only real home she’d ever known.

Her husband Ben had never liked her parents. They’d always seen him for who he was. Linda had been blinded by her need to be loved. She endured beatings, but finally her eyes were opened when he raised a hand against her children.

She’s rather die than let them suffer, but if Ben killed her, they’d be at the mercy of a murderer.

This was the first time the children had been on an airplane and they were so excited. In time the memories of their father would fade. They’d stop asking where he’d gone and when he was coming back.

The police were convinced he’d abandoned his family and run off with that stripper.

No one would ever find his body.

Linda would finally give her children the family they deserved.

Written in response to FFfAW Challenge-Week of February 21, 2017. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words based on the photo prompt above with 150 being the ideal. My word count came in at 175 exactly.

To see other stories based on the prompt, go to InLink.com.