Dawn approached and with it, the end of the night’s festivities. Travis and his friends headed to their homes. Only a few blocks away from his own home and with only one of his friends, Colin, left with him, Travis stopped. ‘I don’t want to go back,’ Travis thought.
“What is it, man?” Colin asked.
“There have been some troubles at home,” Travis sighed, “There’s a motel a few miles west of here. That should be far enough away that I won’t hear my mom’s screams,” Travis replied, laughing wearily.
“Nah, man, you don’t have to do that. You can stay at my place; for as long as you want to too. We’ve got more than enough room and food.”
“You’re sure? I wouldn’t want to put you out.”
“You wouldn’t be putting me out. It would be just like when we used to sleep over at each other’s houses when we were younger- just like ‘old times’”
“Well, if you really want to.”
Colin rolled his eyes in response. The two had been friends since the fourth grade and were like brothers to each other. Colin’s parents welcomed Travis warmly (without question too, because Travis was a senior in high school) and gave the boys an ample breakfast and a place to sleep. It being Saturday morning and since Colin’s parents were away all day, the boys had nothing to do, but sleep all day- the only adult home was Colin’s grandfather, and he usually slept all day every day anyway.
Travis slept soundly until he was awakened, by a thunderstorm, at about one o’clock in the afternoon. Hungry, he got up and headed to the kitchen in search of food. Seeing Colin’s grandfather sitting at the kitchen table, Travis hesitated before he entered.
“Hello,” The old man broke the silence. Travis had grabbed a plate from the cupboard, observed what was in the pantry and refrigerator, and was now attempting to put together a plate of food.
“Hello,” Travis weakly replied. He sat down and began eating. While Travis ate, the old man fiddled with something that caught Travis’ eye- a Purple Heart.
“You like it?” The old man began, “I got this in Korea.”
“It’s very cool. What’s the story behind it?”
“I woke up, one day, and found myself alone in my foxhole. Apparently, my unit had to leave so fast that they forgot to make sure I was with them. I have no idea how a stayed asleep through all the barking of orders and commotion. Anyway, I was left there to defend the foxhole all by my lonesome, and I couldn’t decide whether I should stay put or try to escape. Eventually, I figured that the enemy would soon seize the foxhole, and I chose to try to escape,” the old man looked at Aaron with an expression of almost agitated fervor, “But little did I know that I was, in fact, surrounded by snipers. They must have thought my unit had yet to boot out. As I made my way out of the foxhole, they took a couple shots at me, and I hurried back into the foxhole, unharmed. I had no place to go; I was sure I was going to die. All of a sudden, above the overwhelming thoughts and fears of my mind, I heard the voice of my sergeant calling out to me. He was telling me to run; so I ran. While I was running, though, I was wounded in the leg, which is how I got the Purple Heart. It wasn’t until I rejoined my unit that I realized he had sacrificed his life for mine. He took down four out of the five snipers surrounding the foxhole before he, marred by bullets and shrapnel, fell dead, himself.”
Travis mused over the old man’s story for a few moments before he replied: “Why would someone so important and essential to your unit go back for one man?” Travis pondered.
“I never knew why. When that happened I had only been with the unit for a few days and knew very little about their commander. My comrades from the troop told me that their commander valued other’s lives much more than his own life. Certainly goes against everything that people seem to believe today, doesn’t it? We’re all equal, yet he considered me worth dying for.”