Honoring Our Veterans

© James Pyles

My family and I were over at my wife’s niece’s place today (where these photos were taken) helping her move stuff out of storage, out of her garage, and into a shed and workshop behind her house.

My Dad and son both served in the military, and this being Veteran’s Day, I thought I should say something about that. I read a commentary yesterday that said relative to racism, sexism, and many other things, America was never, ever “great” or even good, so saying “Make America Great Again” doesn’t make a lot of sense to that activist.

That may well be, but there’s a reason why so many people around the world, both historically, and to this day, gravitate to the United States (seemingly) more than any other nation on Earth.

It’s why I’ll never “take the knee” but rather will stand up for the ideals our flag represents. As long as we keep striving for the goals of liberty and justice, then we will never truly fail, even if a lot of naysayers on social and news media would have us believe otherwise.

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© James Pyles

Thank you for your service, Vets.

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© James Pyles

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Those Never Forgotten

autumn morning

© wildverbs

The air was finally carrying a chill in the mornings, the first sign of Fall. Nick had always loved the Fall, even as a kid, but today possessed a bitterness along with the cold. He got up early, went through his morning routine, and then opened the hallway closet.

There, like every other morning, was the American flag. He never kept it out at night because there were too many vandals.

He gently ran his dark brown fingers along the fabric. Today, more than any other day, it meant something special. “I miss you Dad.”

Tears were running down his cheeks as he put the flag pole in its holder next to the front door on the outside of his cottage. Seventeen years ago today, his Dad, a New York City Police Officer, was among the first responders after the World Trade Center was destroyed. The 27-year-old Marine veteran saluted the flag, not just for honor of country and the Corps, but for the bravest man he’d ever known who died on this day.

I wrote this for the 182nd FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to craft a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174.

Today marks the seventeenth anniversary of the heinous terrorist attacks on our country, a time when we remember those who fell, and the courage of the men and women who first responded to the attacks. I felt I should write something appropriate.

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

Fallen Hero

headstone dog

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Marine Corporeal Jeffrey DeYoung could barely hold back his tears as he accepted the folded American flag in honor of Cena. Five-hundred people were attending his funeral, all Marines in their dress blues. Cena had been raised to be a Marine since he was very young, and during his tours in Afghanistan, he’d saved thousands of lives.

“There’ll never be another like you.” DeYoung listened to the taps performance as the coffin was lowered into the grave escorted by eight German shepherds. Then, on command, they issued their own salute to their fallen comrade, howling for thirty seconds.

Cena fell, not in the service of his country, but to bone cancer. The Michigan war dog was interned with seventeen other military canines. This weekend, we mourn our honored dead in the United States Armed Forces, but never forget the most dedicated and loyal members of the service are not always human.

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Cena with his handler Marine Cpl Jeffery DeYoung – Photo Credit: Fox 2 News.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – May 27, 2018 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 151.

Given that this is the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S., and seeing the prompt was a photo of a dog and a headstone, I thought it fitting to pay homage to the dogs who have served our country. My tale is a fictionalized version of the events in the news story Michigan bomb-sniffing war dog gets military funeral. On August 24, 2017, Cena was buried with full military honors at a cemetery in South Lyon, Michigan. You can click the link to get all the details, but it’s very touching.

In doing my research, I also found a book on the history of military dogs, as well as this commentary.

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