Keeping a Promise
The sky was heavy with rain clouds. The air was still as the grave. To most people the young female soldier dressed in her Dress Blue Uniform was rather pretty. If there was anyone there to see her as she walked among the graves stones. She had her head held high with pride.
She often came here with her mother, but today she was alone. In her hands she held a bouquet of flowers and a small American flag. It has been a long hard year for the young lady. But she kept her promise to her father. She would have made him proud of her.
Two days ago she walked across the stage and received her beret. Everything she went through was worth it for that simple piece of fabric. The humiliation at the hands of her grandparents who didn’t understand her. The hate and torments that had been heaped upon her by her high school class mates. The bullying from every cheap ass jock that came along.
The long hours of training her mind and body with everything from riddle boxes and cross word puzzles, to ballet and gymnastics. She remembers the hours and hours of hard work in the gyms with weights and treads mills. The special classes in not one but three different types of martial arts and training in hand to hand combat by her god fathers. The long hours of study and isolation just to earn her way into one of the greatest Military Academies in the land.
Even there she faced an uphill battle from the start. Every politician with an axe to grind tried to stop her. Then there were the Televangelists and their holy crusade against her. To them she was the whore of Babylon sent to corrupt the fine upstanding students who would defend their country one day. Oh how the Moral Majority had their field day with her attending the Academy. But no matter what they did she never gave up her dream and the promise she made to her father. Her mother had instilled in her a strong sense of duty and the courage to stand for her ideals.
It was this courage that had become a will of iron at first. Then through all of her hardship that iron will was forged into steel of the hardest, strongest, and finest quality. It drove her to be better than what all of her nay Sayers said she could be. She had succeeded where they said she would fail. Each and every time they tried to stop her she found a way around them. No obstacle would stand in her way.
She had come a long way from that poor lonely child hiding in its bedroom. A child who lost its father at the hands of the enemy so long ago. A child who so desperately wanted to tell her father the truth about herself, but never had the chance. The day she and her mother laid him to rest here in this cemetery she made him a promise.
It took her twenty years to keep that promise, but now she had. She was here to tell him that that she did it. She had set herself a goal to one day follow in her father’s footsteps. And she did it; despite all those who would rather she fail in her attempts to do what only one in every one hundred succeeds at. She had done what they said she could not.
For months of pain and hardship during her training were nothing compared to what she went through to be the woman she was today. The pain of looking at her body every morning as a small child and knowing it was wrong. The pains of humiliation from her class mates as she molded her body through hormones and surgery to correct nature’s mistake. All the pain during her training was nothing compared to that she suffered after her final surgery to become whole. Even now whatever life threw at her she would face it with a smile.
After a few moments of walking she came to her father’s grave. The marker was a simple thing to hold such a strong and powerful message. Just four simple lines asking for something so simple. Words that would become a promise in a young child’s mind at first then in her heart. Words that would be her rock in times of great trial and heart ache. It would be these words that would drive her to be the best of the best, no matter what life would throw at her.
U.S. Army Special Forces Airborne
Loving Husband and Father
‘I am always with you. Remember me.’
Looking down at her father’s grave the young lady wipes away the tears that came to her eyes. “I made it daddy. I earned my Beret. I am a Green Beret just like you were, now. I learned what that means and I will make you proud of what I have done. I kept my promise to you. Daddy, I know that you did your best to come home to mom and me. I know that I might not have been the son you wanted me to be, but I hope that wherever you are you can be proud of the daughter I have become. Mom said to say hello, I know she comes here often to talk with you. I am sorry I don’t come by as much as I use to, but you know how the Army is. Always being sent in to fix the politicians fuck ups. When will they ever learn that they can’t bully everyone into thinking the same way?” the young lady sighed heavily as she really didn’t want to talk about what was on her mind.
“Daddy, they are sending me to the sandbox along with my team next week. I know that it is my duty, but how do I tell mama? I remember every time you left she worried non-stop until you walked back through the door. How do I tell her that it is my turn to go to war? I don’t want her to worry but I can’t lie either. I really wish you were here to give me some advice on this.” Her tears were starting to flow again when she heard a cough behind her. Wiping her tears she turn to find one the soldiers that put out the flags on the graves.
After she returned his salute the young sergeant said. “Excuse me Lieutenant, but maybe I can help you out?”
The young woman looked him over and noticed that he wore a combat patch on his right arm of his uniform. At first she didn’t recognize the unit but it quickly came to her. She was rather surprised to see that it was the unit she would soon be joining.
“Of course Sergeant right now I’ll take any advice you can offer.”
“Just tell your mama the truth. I know it is rude of me but I was listening to you talk with the Top here. I take it you’re his daughter ma’am?” at the nod of her head the young man smiled. “Then I know you’ll make him proud ma’am. Just do your job to the best of your abilities and he’ll be just fine. You have already done that by winning your beret. As for your mama, well she knows that her daughter is a soldier and war is part of the job. Just tell her the truth. Because no matter what you do she’ll still be worried about her baby. That is what mothers do. Now if you’ll excuse me ma’am I need to finish up before recall. I have to get another four hundred flags out today.”
She stood there and watched as the young man stepped past her and continued on down the line of graves. Stopping at every tomb stone and placing a small flag one foot in front of it centered on the tomb stone. She notices that he didn’t put one in front of her fathers. That is when she realized that she had his flag in her hand still. Reaching down she placed her father’s flag one foot and center for his stone. When she stood back up she looked around to thank the Sergeant for his kind words.
To her shock she couldn’t see him anymore but all the tomb stones had a flag placed in front of them now. Then she thought back to how the sergeant’s uniform seemed a little out of date. The more she thought about the man’s uniform the more she realized that the Army hadn’t issued that style in almost twenty five years. The last time those BDU’s were standard issue her father wore them. As her fear started to rise she felt a loving warmth surround her. It was as if she was once again in the arms of her father.
With a lighter heart she turned and headed for where she had parked her car. As she walked away from the lonely graves she failed to notice the two men standing under the centuries old oak tree. To most that would see them they appeared to be just another pair of soldiers taking a break in the shade. The fact that their uniforms were out of date didn’t matter. The fact that one wore armor not seen since the time of Moses should have been a clue.
With a smile on his face the younger of the two turned to the man in armor. “Thanks for this Saint Michael. I know the Boss doesn’t like for us to have contact with our families. But I had to be here today. My baby girl has done me proud and I get to keep my promise to her.”
Turning to look at the young man the archangel just smiled. Placing his arm around the fallen hero he asked.
“You’re not mad at Charlie for wanting to be a girl are you?”
“Shit no! I always loved my child. I am proud to call that young lady my daughter. I don’t care if she wanted to be a boy or a girl so long as she is happy. The fact that she went on to accomplish all of her dreams so makes me even prouder. That girl is going to be one Hell of a Green Beret.” The smile and look of pride only confirmed what the archangel knew to be the truth.
“I know that you would love to stay around for a little longer Sergeant but we have to be getting back now.”
“Sure no problem I understand sir. Do you think we can stop off at Fiddlers Green for a beer before heading home?”
“Sure son, I think we can swing that. Besides I feel a need to raise a glass in a toast to the newest Green Beret.” With a wave of his hand the archangel transported the two of them to a bar on the other side of the vale. To the people who were in the cemetery they appeared to just disappear in the heat shimmer coming off the ground on this hot Memorial Day. No one would ever guess that this scene was being played out in cemeteries across the nation as soldiers of all ages took the chance to keep a promise to a loved one.
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