“Don’t you look hot?”
Colin looked over his shoulder in the mirror, at the woman who owned him. It was ass-crack thirty and she should still be asleep.
“What are you doing up?”
Her body swayed and he turned, facing her he wondered that he ever let her out of bed. She was even more beautiful now than she was when he’d fallen in love with her. If the men at Maxim ever got a look at her fresh from bed wearing a pair of his basketball shorts, and a t-shirt rocking one of their sons they’d name her the sexiest woman on the planet.
Not that he’d ever let that happen.
He was the only person who got to see her like this.
“Someone has decided he likes his daddy’s hours.”
He lifted Max from her arms and kissed his cheek, “If he only knew his daddy would prefer to be naked in bed with mommy instead of wearing this contraption.”
Brynn stepped up to him and adjusted one of his Purple Hearts, and smoothed down his jacket. “Yes, but today is important and as much as mommy would prefer to be in bed with daddy, she understands this comes first.”
God, she slayed him.
“I’ll take him with me so you can get some more sleep before Foster gets up.”
“Yep, now give me a kiss and get back in bed. You have a busy day and need all the sleep you can get.”
“I love you.”
He leaned down and kissed her, murmuring against her lips, “Love you too.”
It didn’t take him long to have Max dressed and loaded in the car. Ben walked out the front door as he closed Max’s door.
Ben nodded, “A little nervous.”
“Don’t be, it’s just a bunch of guys doing something that needs to be done.”
Ben pulled himself together and climbed in the SUV.
The drive took them five minutes, the rest of the town was still sleeping, cutting down on the holiday traffic. He pulled into the parking lot, and parked. They were the first ones to arrive, something for which he was grateful. He liked to spend just a few minutes by himself and his thoughts before the others arrived.
Max gurgled from his car seat, Ben turned around and made faces at him, making him laugh. A car pulled up beside them. He didn’t have to look to know who it was. Colin got out and waited for Justin to join him at his vehicle.
“You ready for this?”
It was the same question Justin asked him every year since they’d started doing this.
“As ready as anyone ever is.”
He got Max from the car and situated in his stroller. On the seat next to Max’s car seat was the box he needed. “Ben grab that box will you?”
With Justin and Ben helping they made their way to the flag pole next to the covered statue at the entrance to the cemetery.
Colin parked Max’s stroller next to it and moved next to Justin and Ben standing by the flag pole. Ben placed the box in Justin’s outstretched arms and stepped back. Colin took his place and opened the wooden box, revealing an American Flag. This flag was only flown four times a year, Memorial Day, Flag Day, July Fourth, and Veteran’s Day. For the last four years he’d had the privilege of being one of those chosen by his local VFW to raise the flag on Memorial Day. An honor he took very seriously.
Normally it was just him and two other Veterans, but this year the city had something special for all of its Veterans planned.
But first they needed to raise the flag.
Reverently he removed the flag from the fabric lined box it was stored in and stepped to the flag pole where Ben was waiting, with the first hook. Ben attached the first one, and waited while Justin pulled the rope and began to raise the flag, while Colin unfolded it. The second eyelet was hooked, and Colin and Ben stepped back, and saluted as the flag was raised.
Other’s arrived just as Justin tied the rope to the pole and they began helping set up chairs. Most of those coming this morning would be standing, but there were some who were getting up in years, and they needed to be sitting.
Mayor Baldwin, the old one, not to be confused with his son the current mayor arrived and joined him and Justin at the edge of the chairs. He was followed by the Fire Chief, and Principal of the High School.
All of them in their dress uniforms.
They lined up, representing all the branches of the Armed Forces, rendered honors to the men and women who were coming for the private unveiling of a tribute to all those who’ve ever worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces.
The last person to arrive was one of Colin’s favorite citizens of Holiday. Lieutenant Jack Snyder. At one hundred and five years of age he was the oldest citizen of Holiday and a veteran of three wars. He’d fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam before retiring.
Whenever he was at the VFW everyone would gather to hear his stories.
He was accompanied by several members of his family, who had all fallen in his footsteps and joined the Marines.
Colin and the others waited until Jack and his family had taken their seats before they moved to theirs at the front of the group. Ben had taken Max out of his stroller and was holding his so he could see everything.
Mayor Baldwin, the new one, was waiting next to the covered statue. At his nod, music began to play, the Armed Forces Salute filled the cemetery. As each branch’s anthem played the soldiers stepped forward or stood.
There was pride and emotion on all of their faces.
“I want to thank each of you for coming this morning. I know for a lot of you getting out of bed this early is difficult, but the city felt it was important that we unveil this for the Veterans first, before the rest of the city see it.”
The covering was pulled of and Colin didn’t bother hiding the tears. He knew if he looked around everyone’s eyes would be wet.
A flag draped coffin carried on the shoulders of eight soldiers in their dress uniforms, representing the major wars that had been fought. A small plaque was at the base of each soldier, telling which conflict, the years of it and how many American’s died.
Colin looked down into the bright somber eyes of his son and knew that if he’d had to do it all over again to make sure that Brynn and his boys were safe from evil he would.
Ben stepped forward and picked up a trumpet he hadn’t noticed. The birds stopped singing as the first notes of Taps echoed over the rising sun.
Everyone stood and rendered honors to the statue in memory of those who’d fallen in combat, and those who’d fought and come home. When the last note sounded, no one moved, each of them lost in the memories of those they’d known who hadn’t come home.
Colin didn’t know how long the silence lasted, but even Max, who was never quiet didn’t make a sound.
The mayor shifted, breaking the moment and those who needed to sit, sat back down.
“We thank each and everyone one of your for your service and wish each of you a Happy Memorial day. And don’t forget the town picnic tonight and concert benefiting our local VFW.”
Everyone laughed, like they could forget the concert. It was all that had been talked about for the last three months besides Jack’s stories.
Max started to fuss, and Colin took that as his cue to leave. Max had used up his quota for good behavior. With one last look at the statue and flag, he vowed to bring Foster back that night when he lowered the flag and would share another story about the man he was named after.