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"Hearing Voices" A Memorial Day Tribute

How do birds do this?!
Casey flew—or flailed, he imagined—through the glorious, red-tinged skies of Heaven as he ascended towards his destination. He’d only gotten his wings a day or two ago (it could’ve been longer than that, time was funny up here) and they hadn’t come with a manual. Of course, the other members of his unit teased him—some things never changed—as they flew as though they’d been born with wings.

He was grateful that they’d been there to greet him. One moment, he’d been in Afghanistan, manning  the heavy gun on the Cougar HEV. There had been a loud BOOM, like the world had detonated in front of him, then fire, then flight, or something like flight, he couldn’t tell because he was on fire and trying not to panic, then gunfire, then nothing.

Then the light. Then four of his friends helping him to his feet, slapping him on the back and welcoming him home.

Casey was flapping his wings so hard that he had worked up a sweat; he crawl-stroked through clouds and found himself basking in a glorious, radiant sunlight that overtook the entire sky. The rays hit him like a day on the beach, and all fatigue melted away. He rose although he did not move, as though something now carried him.

“Casey.” An omnipresent voice, deep, rumbling, and reminiscent of his own father, spoke throughout the clouds, “What troubles you, my son?”

“Um, God?” Casey began uncertainly. He’d never been good at the whole prayer thing, “I don’t want this to sound like I’m trying to be disrespectful, but…I’m hearing voices.”

The clouds sighed like low thunder. “Oh, is the prayer filter malfunctioning again?” God asked, “I’ll have to have my Son examine the machine…”

Casey held up a hand and quickly waved off the notion, “No, no, sir, I promise, I mean…no…the, um, prayer filter is fine. It’s…well, I dunno. The other members of my unit hear it but none of the other Angels know what I’m talkin’ about and I don’t want no one to think I’m crazy…”

Again, the clouds sighed, and parted at the sun, opening to reveal more of the light. “Oh, I see.” God replied, as though speaking to a child, “Casey, would you please tell me what you hear?”

Casey scratched his head. “Well, it’s like I’m underwater, but I know what I’m hearing. It’s like…clapping. But not like little clapping; I mean it’s like millions and millions of people clapping. I ain’t never heard clapping like that. It’s like the whole world stood up and cheered. And they’re saying things, too; they’re crying and sayin’ ‘thank you’.”

Casey paused and smiled. “It’s funny, God, cause I coulda swore I heard my mother in there too.”
God laughed a loving, gentle laugh that caused the clouds to continue moving away from the sun. “Casey, my son…you are not crazy, I assure you. The voices are for you, and your friends, and several others up here.”
Casey frowned. “I don’t understand.”

“My child, you have been up here a short while; not enough to acclimate yourself to time. But this is the day your country chose to honor you, and your comrades, for your sacrifice.”

Casey snapped his fingers. “Wait, you mean it’s Memorial Day?”

“Yes, my son, it is.”

“And all of that cheering…it’s for us?”

“Well-deserved, I’d say.”

Casey hesitated a moment longer and raised his hand as though in class; “God, may I ask you something, please?”

“Anything you like, Casey.”

“Well…in the Bible, and in Sunday School, all it ever mentions is love one another…not that that’s a bad way of thinking, I wish more people thought that way…but, Sir, what I means to say is…I…I wasn’t expecting to be here when…you know, when I died.”

“Little Casey Harrington, you were but twenty-two years of age when I called you home.” God began, “You chose to dedicate your life to the service of others. You, and your comrades, sacrificed all you had to stand against tyranny, evil, and oppression the likes of which make even the devil cringe.  You did all of this without question or hesitation.”

The sun beamed, and Casey was caught in the warm, obfuscating light. He couldn’t help but smile; there was no pain, no doubt, no worry. He was home.

“I can think of no one worthier of being welcomed here.”

The moment passed, and Casey descended slowly, still maintaining his flight. “And on this day, your countrymen choose to honor your sacrifice.”

Casey breathed. “Thank you, God.”

He put a thumb over his shoulder. “I’ma just…go back to my unit now.”

“You are always welcome here, My son.”

Casey turned and prepared to fly back to Heaven’s mainland, but before he left, he turned back to the sun. “God, if you don’t mind me askin’, I know we ain’t allowed to talk to them no more, but could You please find a way to tell them…we appreciate it?”

The sun beamed and Casey could’ve sworn that God was smiling.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thanks again, God.”

With that, Casey turned, arms out in front of him, and like Superman, he flew back down through the clouds.

For all those who serve, who have served, and who will serve; Thank You For Your Sacrifice. Happy Memorial Day.


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