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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)

TITLE: Private Mourning
By Allison Egley


It was December 7th. Robert walked solemnly out to the flag poll, attached the flag to the ropes and raised it up. He brought the flag to the top of the pole, before pausing for a second and bringing the flag back down to rest at half-staff. Normally, a staff member of the nursing home did this task, but over the years, the staff realized how special this day was to him, and let him have his one day a year to perform the ritual.

With tears glistening in his eyes, he gave a curt salute before kneeling by the flag. His head reverently bowed, Robert paid his respects to his fallen comrades. Standing once again, he looked heavenward and saluted before walking into the building.

With a heavy heart, Robert walked back to his room and pulled out his journal; a memento of his days in the service. He wept into his hands bitterly. Once a year, he let the tears flow freely. Once a year, he allowed the memories to wash over him again. Other times he tried to push them aside. It was too hard to remember.

Robert still jumped when he saw a military plane flying low, and he didn't care much for fireworks. They only reminded him of the explosions that rocked Pearl Harbor that day.

Robert remembered scrambling for cover, once he realized what was happening. He remembered the sound of the planes flying overhead, and could still read the number imprinted on the plane that flew closest to his inadequate shelter. And the screams... Oh, how he remembered the agonizing screams, followed by the silence.... the deafening silence of death and mourning.

He closed the pages of his journal, holding it close to his heart and saying a quick prayer before somberly putting it back in its place.

Later, he walked over to the window and watched as a group of children and youth walked into the building, joking and laughing. They were probably here to sing carols or play games with the residents. Did they see the flag? Did they notice it was at half-staff? Did they care? Or was this just another day for them? He hoped for their sake, that this generation's "Pearl Harbor Day," September 11th, wouldn't be forgotten by the following generations.

The day wore on, and Robert kept his private vigil. The sun began to set, and he walked out to the flag pole once again. He gave a salute, raised the flag up to full-staff and then slowly and carefully lowered the flag, as he softly sang. He knew it wasn't the usual song to sing as one took down the American flag, especially on a day such as this, but it had always been his favorite.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His truth is marching on.

He folded the flag the best he could, saluted, and walked back inside. As he turned around, he saw the group of children and teens, along with their leaders, standing in silence with their hands on their hearts. Maybe they remembered after all.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe; Public Domain.

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This article has been read 1556 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 04/10/09
Oh, just beautiful. Such a moving and poignant tribute. You brought tears to my eyes. Amazing descriptions.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/10/09
This is a wonderful story of remembrance. I can see it in mainstream print for Memorial Day, actually any day of special honor to the veterans to whom we owe such a debt of gratitude.
Glynis Becker04/12/09
I, too, hope that we will always be touched when we see a flag at half-staff and that we never forget the sacrifice of so many. Wow. Well done.
Chely Roach04/12/09
This was fantastic. The descriptions were wonderful, and the lyrics of that song always give me goosebumps. Loved the last few lines...awesome story.
Bryan Ridenour04/13/09
Moving tribute and reminder to thank God for our military men and women, past and present. Very nice!
Sheri Gordon04/13/09
Beautiful writing, and very unique take on the topic. This gave me goosebumps.
Jan Ackerson 04/13/09
Excellent! Usually patriotic writing is too mushy-gushy for me, but this is beautifully written.

Did you catch the typo in the first line? And I wonder if maybe you should end it one sentence sooner. That'd be a great image to leave with your reader.

You've created a great character here!
Mona Purvis04/13/09
I loved this. The Title..great. Private?
I know some men who could be this MC. Love it.
Beth LaBuff 04/14/09
What a beautiful story about something we should never forget. I love the respect shown the man and the flag at your story's end. Is your title a play on words, with Robert's rank being "private"?
Beckie Stewart04/15/09
What a wonderful approach to the subject. I indeed will never forget September 11th. My dad always remembered December 7th.
Karen Wilber04/15/09
Excellent title. I thought the flag raising/lowering was a superb choice for this week's theme. Touching, beautiful story that brought tears to my eyes at the end. This is brilliant.
LauraLee Shaw04/16/09
Outside the box on topic and VERY well-written. Well done.
Sheri Gordon04/16/09
Congratulations on your EC. Very glad to see this place.
Marty Wellington 04/16/09
Congratulations Allison! Well done.
Myrna Noyes04/16/09
Oh,my! This brought tears to my eyes and made me think of my dear dad, also a WWII vet. What an awesome, touching story, so very well written. I loved the opening where Robert saluted the flag, knelt to pray, and then saluted toward heaven. And the ending totally choked me up. Your story was one of my very favorites this week! CONGRATULATIONS on your EC win!! :)
joanna reed04/25/09
This was truly horrid. This man when through a great trauma and I dont see the power and majesty of God in his life. Having been to war myself, I know that my prayers went up to my God, the creator of the universe. He prayed but to whom was he acknowledging. He saluted who when he looked heavenly. Does God deserve credit for anything? Was He there? Did He comfort and console him? Did he ever know the peace of God in a trial such as this? Was he grateful for God's mercy, grace and love which brought him back?
What a gift for writing but what a wasted opportunity to encourage others.
This showed me a man capable of great emotion but it severly lacked the acknowledgement of the providential hand of God in his life. I guess describing the tradgedy and leaving out the power of God in this situation leaves me lacking the faith building I want, need, and desire from articles on this website.
Chely Roach04/29/09
This was so far from horrid, that I am horrified that anyone would be so insensitive--and frankly cruel--to say such a thing. Allison, my dear, this was a beautiful, INSPIRED piece of prose, and I am proud to dwell among gifted, Godly writers like yourself here at Faithwriters. Love ya.
Shari Armstrong 12/06/09
This brought chills... truly a fitting memorial to all those who served and to the faith of the Christian Solider.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/11/13
Wow! This really welled my eyes up. I thought it beautiful and quite obviously he wasn't worshiping the flag, but praying as he knelt and bowed his head. His salutes were for those who didn't come home but hopefully were in Heaven watching over him. This is beautiful and the only thing horrid on this page (aside from the tragedies of war)is a nasty comment. :) Glad you have the ability to bounce back after something like this. If you can get through the pain this must have caused, you'll be able to handle that surgery no sweat! Hugs my sweet friend.