NOW AVAILABLE...Stand To...: A Young Man's Journey to Manhood During the Vietnam WarEFranklinEvans.comThe story of a young man who is awakened to the world around him when a tragic event propels him into his journey to manhood.
The family in the loaded SUV entered the front gate of the
cemetery. It was a hot day, temperature 90 degrees, and the humidity was around
60%. The air-conditioned vehicle kept everyone comfortable if not completely
content, after all it took over an hour to get to the beach from home and the
children were beginning to get restless at this unnecessary stop on the way. The two children in the back seat were anxious
to get to the beach. Frankie, the older brother, as usual had been irritating
Barb, his younger sister for the past hour. They finally quieted when their
mother suggested they sing and that made them manageable, for a little while.
Now they were just in a hurry to get to the sand and ocean. The back of the SUV
was full of floats, beach toys, buckets and shovels for building their sand
castle. A picnic basket and cooler were full of family favorites and Frankie's
stomach growled in anticipation.
"Here's a good spot, "said Dad. He pulled off the paved road
into the gravel parking area near a large oak tree. "Lots of shade and a great
view of all the flags waving over the graves."
Frankie looked at the hundreds of miniature flags waving in
the slight breeze. It looked like an ocean of red, white, and blue. It made
Frankie more anxious to get this over and get on to the beach.
"Dad, why don't we just get on to the beach and quit wasting
"Son, it's only fitting that we give thanks and honor those
who gave their lives in service of our country. One of those, remember, was
your uncle. He's not here, but Belgium is too far away for us, I'm afraid. I
still think of him. You were named for him."
"I know, Dad. Let's just get this over."
The doors opened and everyone stepped out. Mom and Dad stood
there for a moment gazing over the sea of flags. Barb wanted Mom to pick her
up, but Mom told her it was too hot and she would have to walk by herself.
"Let's walk down this row for a bit and read some of the
names, "said Dad.
"I'm just going to sit on the bench in the shade, Dad. I
don't want to walk."
"OK, Frankie. I'm sorry you don't want to join us, but have
it your way. Don't leave the bench. We are not going to be far."
It was cool on the bench and Frankie stretched out watching
the clouds overhead as they changed shape. Soon the gentle breeze and the
mesmerizing effect of the flags in the wind lulled Frankie to sleep.
"Young man, may I sit down here for a spell?"asked an older gentleman in a soldier's uniform.
"Uh, I guess so, "said Frankie. " My parents are just over
"Oh, don't worry, I won't be any bother. I just want to rest
for a few minutes and enjoy the beautiful site of all those flags."
"Mister, are you part of that ceremony over there with all
the other soldiers and band?"
"Well, sort of, I guess."
Frankie recognized the uniform from pictures he had seen of
his uncle Frank.
"You are dressed up like a soldier from WWII, aren't you? My
Dad and his brothers were in WWII."
"The man chuckled and said, "Yes, son. I know. We gather
here at this time every year to see old friends and enjoy the ceremonies. We
share stories with each other and watch the families who come to remember."
"You mean your club or friends from the war?"
Smiling, the old man said, "Yes, it is a club of sorts. It
has lots of chapters all over the US and even a couple overseas. We have
numerous members that wear many different uniforms. But we share a common bond
and that is the love of this country. We are concerned about it and as long as
people come to remember and celebrate the sacrifices of others who have given
their lives for its principles, we will continue to come."
Frankie looked around for his parents.
"See that headstone over there by the walkway?"
"Well, that belongs to one of my best friends. We came here
together. Great guy.A salesman in life.
Had a wife and two children."
Frankie began to feel a bit uneasy as he said, "Uh, I think
I had better go find my parents now."
"That's fine, son. I think you understand now, don't you?"
"Y...Yes, Sir. I think I do." Frankie began to feel a
calming peacefulness come over him as the truth was revealed.
"Young man, I have to go now. I'm part of the Welcoming Committee
and we have some new members that have just arrived. That's them over there."
Frankie looked where the old soldier was pointing and he saw
a group of ten or twelve young men and women in uniform anxiously looking
around at the ceremonies and flags. They were talking among themselves and no
one seemed to take notice of their presence.
"Good-bye, young man. Thank you for sharing part of your day
Frankie stood up erect and smiled while one small tear crept
from the corner of his eye.
"Thank you, Sir. For all you have given and for the
sacrifices all of you have given throughout the ages."
Frankie suddenly came to attention as if it was the most
natural thing to do. He saluted the old soldier who returned his salute and
"By the way, Sir. If you happen to see my uncle, please tell
him that I remember and thank him for me."
"I sure will, son. I sure will."
Nearing the group of newcomers to the club, the old soldier waved
and they waved back. Joining them, the old soldier looked back at Frankie and
waved again. Frankie returned his wave and watched as the group, the old
soldier in charge now, slowly faded away.
Frankie looked and in the distance saw his parents and Barb
walking among the rows of headstones and flags. Although he wasn't sure they
could hear him that far away, he called, "Mom! Dad! I want to join you. I
understand now. Wait for me."