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Quiet Heroes

Maybe the gray, rainy morning made the blue awning stand out.

Or maybe Stan was just looking for a diversion before heading back to the nursing home.

He normally didn’t attend the funerals of his residents — there were just too many of them. But he and Versal had developed something of a friendship. Even though he hadn’t known the man for long, Stan felt like he had to say goodbye.

Whatever the reason, the local military museum called to him like a beacon nestled there in a low, dated building in the middle of a city block.

Stan had never noticed the place before, didn’t really have any interest in military history, but he pulled his car alongside the curb and darted into the museum before he even realized what he was doing.

“Welcome to the museum,” an elderly woman said from behind a display case. “Let me know if you have any questions.”

Stan grunted his “thank you” and began walking past the displays. None of them meant anything to him, but when he came to the middle of the back wall, he stopped cold and stared at a medal hanging behind a sheet of plexiglass.

A brittle, yellowed sheet of paper with faded, broken type was stapled on a board next to the Purple Heart.

“Awarded to Versal Parker on May 7, 1944, for valor in battle. Private Parker sustained a severe injury to his left foot from a landmine explosion but still managed to climb a watch tower to rescue four fellow servicemen injured by enemy fire.”

Stan thought of the cane that had been Versal’s constant companion at Sunnyview and the tiny American flag he kept taped to his mirror.

Stan snapped his heels together and saluted the display.

“Proud to know you, sir.”

Published inFlash Fiction

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