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American Soldier

on 04/22/2011
This story is dedicated to the men and women serving our country overseas and their families, as well as the people who have died serving and their families. In particular the family of local soldier, Brandon Pickering, whose funeral was today.  

It wasn’t an unusual night, Jake had taken me out to dinner and now we were sitting on his couch watching a movie. I was leaning against him, his arm around me, and our feet entangled. I looked up at him when I noticed he had something on his arm. I looked at it closer and saw several tattoos. One was a bouquet of Gerber daisies, another of song lyrics, and one of a gold star.“Your tattoos,” I asked him, “Do they mean anything?”

“Oh those, yeah, they do. My mom, she died when I was seventeen. She had gone into the military, because I was finally old enough to take care of myself and my dad had died in the gulf war. She wanted to do it for him. I begged her not to, but she ignored me. She saved a young boy over there. They were being shot at and my mom,” He stopped for a second, and I wiped the tears that came to his eyes,“she pushed this boy out of the way and took the shot for him. It hit her in the heart and she died within seconds.” he managed to choke out.I looked him right in the eyes and said, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s slowly getting better. I don’t think it’ll ever heal. I loved her and she’ll never see me get married or meet her grandkids. My tattoos though, this one,” he got back to my original question and pointed at the flowers, “is of her favorite flower. Once a week I would take whatever money I had, and buy her as many of them as I could afford. It always made her smile and on January 3rd, she would always take them and put them on my dad’s grave. The tattoo below that one, that’s some of the lyrics to American Soldier by Toby Keith.” I read them as he said them. He didn’t look down once as he read them, “I’ll bear that cross with honor, ‘cause freedom don’t come free. I’m an American soldier, an American.”That’s why my dad joined the army, because he knew that freedom doesn’t come free and he wanted to help keep us free, so that one’s for both of them. The last one down there is the gold star, when someone loses a close family member who was serving in the military they get a gold star pin. Since I have lost both parents I have two of them but I gave them to my grandparents and got one permanantly.”

“That’s really cool. Thanks for sharing it with me, Jake.”

“I’ve never told anyone before but then again, no one has ever asked. It feels good to tell you, like I got a load off my chest. Thank you for listening.”

“I will be here Jake, for anything.”

“Thank you”

“Always”

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One response to “American Soldier

  1. I enjoyed this vignette. I found myself touched more and more deeply as Jake told the stories behind his tattoos. That it ended so simply and so well was a nice touch. Thanks for this.

    Take care,
    Jess

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