Halfway to Hell

I’m taking my inspiration today from a different source.

I have recently become hooked on reading six word stories as I can just let my mind wander and explore the subject after each one. After I read on and was playing out the rest of the story in my head, a though crossed my mind; for the first time in my life, I am friends with someone who will be deploying in direct support of the War On Terror. I will know and care for someone who is putting his life in harms way to protect this great nation. This struck me as strange at first, but I then realized I also didn’t personally know anyone who had gone over and not come back. Then I though, how many Americans actually know someone who has even deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan? How many have lost sleep over not knowing if the person who they know and love will come back the same, or even come back at all? I do not know the answers to these questions, but what I do know is that while this war was the most publicized war ever, it was also the one with the most disconnect between the American Populous and the Military.

So this is for you Ryan; Keep your head down and stay safe. I’ll watch after Sam while you are gone. There will be a cold beer waiting for you upon your return.

My six words of inspiration for today: Dad left; A flag came back.

I can’t really fault him for wanting to go.

After all it was one last chance to be with the guys he had cut his teeth with.

But, as those young men looked up at him, waiting to jump on his every word and carry out the mission he set forth, I can’t help but wonder if he felt a sense of parenthood. A sense of responsibility for the brave men placed in his trust by their wives and mothers. I wonder if it was the same one he felt at home with the family, when at all costs we would be guided when lost and let roam when found. Deep down, I knew this all to be true, but on the surface he never showed it.

The week before they left, I got to meet many of my farther’s men at a social to celebrate what they were about to go do. As I met them, one and two at a time, my father gushed with pride as he told each one that I was going to follow in his footsteps and become an Officer. I had just been accepted in to college for the fall, and I could tell he had never been prouder of me. He could not wait for the next four years to pass so I could raise my right hand with him and swear to defend this great nation next to his side. Some of the men where cordial, while others were more excited about the free beer.

The day he left it was raining, and not just from my mother’s eyes. The grey clouds only served to provide a somber backing to a more somber ceremony. As the soldiers marched to the bus, I could almost taste the nervous fear around me. The fear of that missed phone call or email, the fear of the letter in the mail, but most of all the fear of every knock on the door.

A couple of months passed and all I knew of my father is that it was not easy going over there and that he loved me. He loved me for being strong while he was away. He loved me for taking care of mother. He loved me for who I was and who I was going to become. I felt proud of him and felt even prouder telling other people what he did and where he was.

I didn’t hear the knock. I did hear my mother’s screams.

As the man in dress uniform tried to comfort her, I couldn’t help but sit down on the stairs. A piece of me had just been ripped from life, and all I could do was sit down. The only movement for some time was the flag blowing in the wind. But as the warm embrace of my mother enveloped me, the tears began to flow.

There were two services. One for the family, and one for the rest of my father’s family when they came back.

I was asked to talk about the man I knew, the words came out;

“Dad left. A flag came back…”

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