Blood Brothers

Two brothers who lead different lives and experience war and what it means to be true heros.

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3. One Last Goodbye

(Marcus: David's younger brother)

I sat front row with my mom and dad. Mom was crying on my dad's chest as David's Sergeant was at the podium. He talked about how good of a soldier he was and how he gave his life for the rest of the squad to escape. How he went above and beyond the call of duty. The president approached us and handed me, of all people, an American flag and a pin. I bit my lip to stop from bursting into tears as he spoke in a soft voice directly to me. He had come to me because while he could see pain in my eyes, he saw strength and courage, and what it took to go through hell and back... he saw that same fire my brother had.

"On behalf of a grateful nation I present you with these in memory of your brother. He have his life so others may live. He was a great man and so are you. You will remember him, as we all will, as a great man who loved both his family and his country." By now I was shaking and tears rolled down my face as I reached out and shook the hand of the most important man in the country.

My brother had asked the men in his squad carry the casket. Half from the funeral home to the hearse. Half from the hearse to the grave. However, with an eleven man squad left there would be a hole to fill so he had written for me to do it. I stood tall in my ROTC dress uniform and straightened my jacket. The room was silent as I fell in with Ghost Squadron and we all proceeded outside.

The ride to the graveyard was silent except for the engine. All the cars stopped for the funeral precession. There had been over two hundred people at the funeral and it seemed only a few hadn't come to the grave yard. My lip quivered as I wrapped my hand around the rail on the casket and we lifted. It was heavy but I didn't care. I marched at the front right side of the casket and placed it over the hole. All the men in uniform saluted the casket as the twenty-one salute was conducted. I winced with every shot and more tears streamed down my face while standing with a salute to my older brother. He had been my mentor and my hero, and he still was. The command "order arms" was given and we all dropped our hands. I returned to my mother and father and stood behind them as the preacher finished talking. I looked at the casket and couldn't help but think what the remains of my brother looked like. The squad hadn't specified after retrieving the body, and I was glad. The thought made me sick, but I stood strong.

Soon the funeral was over and everyone told us they were sorry, there for us, and would mourn with us. I walked up to the casket and stared at it. Eventually mom and dad left. They had driven separately and my dad had driven my car. Now he left with mom and I had my keys. When I was the last remaining person at the graveyard, and before men came to lower the basket, I walked to my car and grabbed a cold Mountain Dew, me and my brother's favorite drink. I sat in a fold up chair my mom had sat in and cracked it open.

"One last time together brother." I sighed raising it up in a toast as more tears filled my eyes. "You're my hero man. I still look up to you. I know you weren't to find of them, but everyone at church is hurting for you. We all love you David. I... I um... never told you, and mom and dad don't know, but I'm enlisting. I talked to the Marine recruiters a couple weeks ago. I'm telling mom and dad today. I was waiting till you got back. It will probably hurt them, but I know dad will understand. Mom will after a while. I love you big bro... See you on the other side."

I placed my hand on the casket and took a sip of my Mountain Dew thinking of all the times we sat down and shared one. All the times we ran from cops and jumped fences and would lose them then hide in our garage sipping on them, or playing video games together and drinking them. It was hard to believe this is the closest thing I'd ever have to that again. My hand slid off the casket as the burial crew walked up.

"Goodbye bro..." I said as I turned and walked to my car.

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