Disclaimer: I don’t own them; they don’t use them…what’s the harm in letting them out once in a while
Author’s note: Never Forget!
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The chinking and chinging, of Johnny’s spurs as he tiptoed down the hall, was masked by the rumbling snores coming from his father’s room. He paused to listen, a secretive smile gracing his face as he thought the sound was even louder than Murdoch’s famous bellow. It would surprise the old man if he knew that some nights when his youngest was ripped from his slumber by some terrifying nightmare, his heart racing with some unspeakable fear and his mind confused as to where he was; he took comfort and security in the thunderous noise that told him his father was near.
Resuming his trek along the passage, Johnny arrived at his room; across the way he noticed his brother’s door had a light showing under it. Thinking back to how quiet and reserved Scott had been all day and his refusal to accompany him to town, Johnny decided he would check on him. Knocking softly on the door, he was rewarded with a response.
"Come in," Scott called.
Pushing the door open, Johnny was surprised to see his brother sitting in the leather wing back chair, wearing the jacket of his Cavalry uniform and in one hand a silver picture frame. His hair was disheveled, as though he had been running a hand through the blond strands. On his night table sat a bottle of Talisker’s and a glass.
"Hey brother…uh…what’s goin’ on?" Johnny questioned, motioning to the liquor and the uniform.
"It’s Memorial Day, little brother, so I am endeavoring to remember."
"The men who faced the horrors of war to ensure the ideals of our founding fathers endured, but mostly I’m remembering the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice, death…whether it was on some blood soaked battlefield or years later from injuries that never healed," Scott replied, his eyes glittering with salty moisture in the flickering light of the oil lamp.
Dropping down onto Scott’s bed, Johnny wrapped his arms around his torso, uneasy with the pain he sensed coming from his stalwart older brother. Chewing his lip he fought the urge to pull Scott from the chair and embrace him. Instead he decided that war caused the type of fester that needed to be opened, drained and aired out, so he asked, "Does it help having a special day to remember them?"
"Anyone that has ever fought in the war never forgets their fallen brothers in arms. I don’t really need a special day to remember them. However, I think it’s important to have a Memorial Day so all citizens recall the sacrifice, not just those who served. I think General John Logan expressed it best on May 5, 1868. I will never forget his words, their power flows in my blood and their truth beats in my heart. He said, and I quote verbatim: Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. Because of these sacrifices, the dawn of justice and freedom throughout the world slowly casts its gleam across the horizon."
Reaching for the Talisker’s bottle, Scott poured a portion in the glass and handed it to his brother, and then raised the bottle and tapped it against the glass. The brothers swallowed the liquor and nodded to each other. Johnny smiled when his brother yawned heartily and decided it was time to let him rest.
Standing, Johnny started to walk away but then stalled before he reached the door, turning around he walked back to the chair; from behind the chair he dropped his arms over the top, wrapping them around his brother’s shoulders. He solemnly whispered in Scott’s ear, "I’m really proud of your service, brother. In your chest beats a noble and valiant heart. Your life might not have been sacrificed on a battlefield but your innocence was, you paid a price too and I thank you for it."
Johnny swiftly exited the room to spare his brother the sight of the gratitude wetting his cheeks…unaware of the gratitude flowing down the soldier’s face.
Memorial Day 2009