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AIN'T I STLL AN AMERICAN?



Every soldier stood at attention as the American flag began to rise. It was my first morning with this unit and I immediately raised my hand to salute the flag as it rose up the 30 foot flagpole.

"You get that damn hand down to your side soldier," screamed the Sergeant, as he ran toward me like a large bear ready to attack.

Slowly I lowered my hand and I stood there wondering what it was that I had done. As I looked from right to left I noticed that no one else in the platoon was saluting the flag.

"Are you out of your cotton-pick'n mind," yelled the Sergeant, as he stood with his large nose pushed against my face.

"I don't know what you mean," I tried to explain.

"You are in the damn stockade boy. You don't salute the flag when you’re in the stockade, he screamed even louder.

"I don't get it," I said.

"You don't get it? You don't have to get it. I am the only one around here who has to get it. Do you understand that fact? He continued to yell.

"I know I was wrong in going to town against an order and that is why I am here. But ain't I still an American? I asked.

When you are here you are no more than a piece of crap. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT? He screamed.

I watched the large veins popped out on the side of his neck and begin to pulsate, in and out, at a fast rate.

"Your gonna blow some type of a heart vein vessel tissue if you keep on yell'n at me like that," I advised him.

The entire platoon began to laugh. The next thing I knew I was on the ground with the Sergeant on top of me. His eyes were big and round and his nose was making a snorting sound. Slowly he released his grip on my face. Then he stood up and began to brush off his uniform. I continued to lay on the ground waiting for his next instruction.

I rose from the ground and stood at attention as he walked away and stopped in front of the large formation of men.

"THERE ARE RULES AND REGULATIONS THAT MUST BE FOLLOWED," he yelled, shaking his head back and forth.

He stood there for several seconds and then he made a right face and headed toward the orderly-room. As he disappeared through the doorway we heard him saying something about his heart vessel tissues. Every soldier stood there in total silence.

"That new kid's right. We are still Americans," yelled a soldier from the rear of the platoon.

One at a time each and every soldier raised their hand and saluted the American Flag.

I suppose this is a case where I, as young boy, did not realize how important and how special something really was until I had lost the right to do it. It is a lesson that I have never forgotten.



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