One of Fifty-Eight Thousand

By May 28, 2012 One Comment

Along about 1970, when I was in junior high,

A new friend invited me to hang out at his house.

Another invitation followed, to go downtown

for the Memorial Day Parade.


Who doesn’t love a parade?

In the car I noticed his parents looked older than my parents.

The mom wore a scarf over her dull gray hair

and the dad a dirty windbreaker over a sweatshirt.


After watching various beer-bellied codgers

from the American Legion and the VFW walk by,

there was a band playing, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

I started to sing along in an obnoxious voice.


The kid elbowed me.

I looked and saw his mother crying.

His dad was searching the sky, looking for something or someone from the past.

I shut up.


When we got back to his house he showed me a picture

in a back hallway of a soldier that sort of looked like him.

An older version of himself.

I had thought he was an only child.


He said he would show me his brother’s Purple Heart and other medals,

If I came back when his parents weren’t home.

I never went to his house again,

Not possessing the emotional equipment necessary to enter into that kind of pain.


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