There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
~ My Hero by Foo Fighters
Today is show and tell at school. My teacher, Miss Hamby, asked us to bring stuff about America since Memorial Day is coming up. Miss Hamby said Memorial Day is when we remember and honor our soldiers. I asked Mommy why we only remember soldiers one day a year; she smiled at me but she looked sad too. Mommy has looked sad every day since Dad left. He’s not my real dad, but he’s the one I want to be my dad. Eric is awesome; he plays with me, tells me stories but he doesn’t treat me like a kid just because I’m small. Just cause I’m little doesn’t mean I’m stupid. Mommy tends to baby me, and sometimes I hate it. I mean, I’m five; I’m not a baby anymore! Lala and Jesus told me she can’t help it, she only does it cause she loves me so much and misses both Daddy and Dad. I’d asked Daddy during “guy time” if he minded if I called Eric ‘dad’. Since it had been cloudy all day and then the sun shined after I asked my question, I figured Daddy didn’t mind.
Anyway, back to Memorial Day. Why do our soldiers only get one day for us to remember them? I think about Daddy and Dad every day. I miss them both a lot. Mommy said not everyone has someone they love that is a soldier. She said most people just take our soldiers and their freedom for granted. I don’t know what ‘for granted’ is, but it doesn’t sound good. Mommy also said not every country in the world was lucky enough to be free and safe; she said we owe everything we have to our soldiers.
When I told Mommy that we had to bring in something related to America for show and tell she asked me what I wanted to bring in. I told her what I wanted to do and she started to cry. I thought it was a bad idea, but she hugged me and said that was perfect. Mommy helped me get everything I needed in a bag and we set it in a special place so I wouldn’t forget it for school.
The day of show and tell, I go to school dressed in my camo shorts and an Army t-shirt. My hair is still just like Dad’s. I asked Mommy if I could keep it like this until he comes home. Whenever I mention Dad, she gets this sad smile on her face and pretty much agrees to anything I ask. I wonder if I mention a dog when talking about Dad if she’ll get me one.
School is boring. I just want it to be time for show and tell, but that won’t be until after lunch. I look at the other kids in the class. Most of their parents work at Fort Bragg, some even have parents in the Army like me. But I’m the only one with a parent that had to go away.
Show and tell is finally here and I ask Miss Hamby if I can go last. As the other kids show their items, I can’t help but think they don’t get it. Most of the kids are showing pictures of their grandparents or great-grandparents that served in the military. Some of the girls brought in Barbie dolls wearing American flag clothes or uniforms, a couple of the boys brought in their GI Joes. I don’t get what toys have to do with Memorial Day. I’ll have to ask Mommy later.
“Hunter?” Miss Hamby smiles at me. I like Miss Hamby. She’s pretty and always been nice to me. Whenever I get sad about Daddy or Dad, she always lets me sit by myself so the others can’t see me cry. Miss Hamby gives me hugs almost as good as Mommy. She told me about her boyfriend Hoyt who is also overseas. He’s in Germany though, so she doesn’t have to worry like me and Mommy. Miss Hamby said I’m a very brave boy and said I should be proud of both my dads.
I take my bag to the front of the class. Please don’t let me cry, I don’t wanna look like a sissy or a crybaby in front of the class. I don’t wanna be picked on. I turn around and face the class. I glance up at Miss Hamby, and she’s smiling at me. “It’s OK Hunter; you don’t have to share if you don’t want to.” She’s put her hand on my shoulder. It makes me feel better.
I blow out a big breath. “No, I wanna share. I brought three items if that’s OK.”
Her smile gets wider. “Of course; please show us what you brought.”
Being extra careful, I place two of my items on Miss Hamby’s desk. The third item I take out of the bag causes Miss Hamby to gasp. I hold it carefully in my hands as I start talking. “This is the American flag my Mommy and me received when my Daddy, Sergeant Samuel Merlotte, died in Afghanistan.” Holding the flag tightly against my chest, I pick up the picture of Daddy in his uniform.
“This is my daddy,” I say to the class. “He was a brave soldier. He died trying to protect our country.” I put the picture of Daddy down and pick up the picture of Dad in uniform.
“This is my dad, Captain Eric Northman. He isn’t my real dad but he takes care of me like a dad should. He taught me how to play t-ball, he’d read me stories, and he let me watch The Sandlot. He’s my best friend. My dad was sent back to Afghanistan in March. I miss him,” I say as I sniff loudly as I fight to not cry. I take a deep breath before continuing.
“Being a soldier is hard. You have to do a lot of training and practicing. You have to leave your family if you have to go away. According to my dad, you eat a lot of bad food and take a lot of cold showers.” The class and Miss Hamby laugh which is good.
“It isn’t easy for those of us at home either. Mommy and I miss both my dads. My mom and I go to the cemetery to visit Daddy. As for Dad, he tries to call and email as much as he can, but it is hard because of where he is. We don’t know when he’s coming home,” I say as a tear slides down my face.
“So the next time you see a soldier, say thank you. It’s because they do the job they do that we have freedom. I don’t know what freedom is, but I guess it’s a good thing. Mommy also says we should thank the Marines, Air Force, and the Navy. She says they work with the Army to keep us safe. So make sure you thank them too.”
“Every time I see this flag,” I say glancing at he folded flag in my arms, “I think of soldiers, but I especially think of my dads. They are my heroes.”
I’m finished talking so I put my things back in my bag and return to my seat. Miss Hamby grabs a tissue from her desk, wiping her eyes. She clears her throat before speaking. “Thank you Hunter for reminding us how special our Armed Forces are. I think that’s all for show and tell today. It’s time for recess kids.”