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by: Bill Greer, Chicken Soup for the Veteran's Soul

They were both there the first time he cried. It was a joyful sound. The sound of life beginning and they waited so long to hear it. Mom and Dad were proud of him as they saw his angel face.

But today he lay there in the dirt face down crying one more time..."Mom, Dad...help me!" They were not nearby to hear his final cry.

He grew to be a young man full of hope and pride. He had dreams and plans for the future. In fact, waiting for him back home was the girl of his dreams. They met at school and just like fairy tales and romance stories this love affair was the kind that was meant to be.

The last time they saw each other they made promises of faithfulness. They talked about the wedding and a dozen or more children of their own. He said "I love you more than anything in this world." She cried and with tears running softly down her face she said, " I will wait for you and while we are apart my heart will skip every other beat until your return."

Mom and Dad stood by watching and dreaming of grandchildren to come and how they would spend the holidays together as one big family.

They said goodbye and after long "I don't want to let you go" hugs, they waved one last time as the plane lifted off the run way and headed away from home.

On the drive back there was silence as each of them remembered the first times, the good times, and the challenges of the past.

"Honey, it seems like just yesterday that he took his first steps," said Dad.

"I can remember holding him in my arms and thanking God for this miracle in my life," said Mom.

"Mom," said the young bride to be, "I know that feeling, too."

Months pass by and letters exchanged by the dozens. His time away is coming to an end. He'll be home again soon.

They gather at the airport once more to greet him. This should have been the joyful return of their son, her fiance.

The plane lands and makes it's final turn. The propellers stop with a sputtering sound. The passenger door opens as the steps are put in place. But this is not for him. The rear baggage door is unlatched and a small truck rolls underneath to gather it's contents.

"There, that must him." Dad whispers quietly. Mom bursts into tears. His fiance bows her head and cries openly into her hands.

He is home just like he promised. She was faithful and true. They didn't hear his last cry. He died face down on foreign soil.

You see he and tens of thousands of other men and women returned home that way so that you could be with your family and friends this weekend sharing laughter, good food and the freedom that only America can offer.

War should never be. But as it has had it's place in our history, young men and women gave their lives for the things that you and I take for granted everyday. Count your freedoms and they will equal one for every life lost.

Know that as Mom and Dad stood by the casket and looked at their son one last time, Mom and Dad were proud of him as they saw his angel face.

God Bless them all and God Bless America!




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