Jackie A. Strange

Arlington, Virginia

The Price Of Patriotism

A lonely little tot in tattered overalls crouched beneath the edge of the old farm house
His face was so young, but strangely old, scarred with tears and frosted with fright.
Slowly and carefully he pulled the day's collected treasures from his bulging pockets:

One wet red cherry gumdrop - slightly used
A slimy green frog entangled in a brown wet leaf, gasping for air
One muddy brown stone, in the shape of a puppy's nose
Two pieces of stained cord, stringy and yellowed with age and use
Tangled around a tiny brown pine cone.

I watched as he somberly placed each of his treasures side by side
As men marching to battle, sighing as he performed the laborious task.

The lad paused for a moment and slowly clutched his secret pocket.
A smile burst across the brown-smudged little face
And I saw red, white, and blue unfold before my eyes.

He proudly stuck a little flag in the ground, straight and unrippled.
Through the shadows I saw his body stretch tall and proud, with lifted chin
A clumsy little hand rose briskly in salute to his greatest treasure of all
His very own American flag
And big tears trickled down the face of the fatherless little boy.
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