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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Warriors and the Sons of Warriors

the american flag

“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” -attributed to George Orwell

His name is Derek Johnson and he’s a disabled, homeless drunk living in an alley that stinks of piss. He’s also a Marine and a Vietnam vet. The three punks thought it was funny, but I sure as hell didn’t. The old man was still passed out when they found him. Drunks most times get rolled for what little they’ve got, which isn’t much, or sometimes a truly sick bastard will pour gasoline on them, and think they’re doing the world a favor by torching a “warmonger” to death.

This time, they only took his prosthetic foot.

I can’t sleep. I can never sleep, well, almost never. When the insomnia monster is clawing at my brain, I walk. Who cares if it’s 2 a.m. or whenever. This time, it was just after dawn. I saw them running out of the alley, laughing like hyenas on coke and carrying something. On a hunch, I looked where they’d been and found him. He was barely conscious and cussing up a storm. I saw the stump where his foot used to be and I saw the words “Semper Fi” tattooed on his forearm. That’s all I needed to know.

“Stay here, brother. I’ll be back.” I touched his shoulder hoping he’d think it was reassuring.

“Stay here? You fuckin’ nuts? I ain’t got no foot. Where the hell would I go?”

I didn’t answer. I just turned away. If I were in his place, I’d probably have said the same thing or worse.

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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.

Rusty and Me

squeak dog

Found on social media – image credit unknown

The thieves took everything except the dog. Of course there was a good reason for it. The dog was armed.

“What the hell were you thinking? Our stuff. They took all our stuff. What kind of watchdog are you, anyway?”

The small, cigar smoking mutt in the body armor took another pull from his fifth of Jack Daniels. “Back off, man. I have the mother of all hangovers and I’m in a really bad mood.”

“A little hair of the dog, eh?”

“It’s too early in the morning for puns.”

“It’s dinnertime and I just got home from work to find my place has been cleaned out.”

“So what? You’ve got homeowner’s insurance, right?”

“I’m calling the cops. Ditch the clothes, the booze, and the miniature assault rifle, so I don’t have to explain you when they get here.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be passed out in the doghouse by then.”

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