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Donald Purvis

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The Old Veteran
July 5, 2007

USA as flag

He sits on the chair by the window. There are things to see out there but not for him. Not today. Today he remembers the war, and all of its horror. He remembers his friends, those that came back, and those that didn't. In his mind he hears the thunder of the bombs around him, the ungodly quiet, and the screams. He tries to forget but his mind won't let him.

He strains to listen for the music they play as they marched down the street in the annual parade, forgetting that the city stopped the parades years ago. The people who ran things in the city didn't think the wars should be honored any more.

He remembers marching down that street the year he came back. Soldiers were heroes then. The adults cheered and the little kids waved their little flags. Times were so different. Wherever you went people smiled and shook your hand if they noticed the small “ruptured duck” you wore in your lapel. Everybody wore one back then. His “Duck” now rests in the drawer of the nightstand. He stopped wearing it the day someone pointed at it and asked what it was. How could he explain that? There just weren't enough words.

He notices there aren't many flags on the street today. His mind drifts back to the times when the flag was displayed on every corner of his town. People honored it then. It wasn't something that was hidden in a garage, or the attic. No, the old days were gone now. Gone like the days when it was patriotic to serve, patriotic to vote, and patriotic to help a neighbor.

The old man sighed, and for a moment wished the olden days would come back. The life he had lived back then was so different. There had been a family then. Now it was just him, and the window, and the quiet. The visitors had stopped coming years ago. If it wasn't for the morning paper he wouldn't know what was happening outside of his room.

Another lonely veteran, living alone, in a lonely world.
Donald Purvis
Retired Sergeant Major, US Army
Copyright 2001

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"Mere Chance" by David G. Bancroft

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