Flash Fiction Challenge: Some Gave All

Photo by K.S. Brooks

All gave some. Some gave all.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, we will have a special flash fiction challenge honoring veterans everywhere. Here is your chance to acknowledge the men and women who stand in harm’s way so we can wield our pens and write whatever we damn well please.

Bring it.

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted.

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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Some Gave All”

  1. Shaky Old Hands

    He awoke before dawn as he usually did
    But today wasn’t just any day
    He showered and shaved with shaky old hands
    And went to the bed where it lay
    A uniform worn by the passage of years
    Slightly faded, lay in all its glory
    The ribbons upon it were starting to fade
    But to him it told quite a story
    He was a kid in late ’44
    Shipped off to a beach head in france
    When the fighting was done he put down his gun
    While a french girl taught him to dance
    A few short years later he fought in the snow
    And become one of the Chosin Few
    He thinks on those days when the weather is cold
    And winter is breaking anew
    He fought them in Nam as the monsoons poured down
    While the media at home slurred his name
    Never doubting his mission he had no regrets
    He retired without any shame
    Today he will ride down the main street of town
    As the folks on the sidewalk all cheer
    Tomorrow they’d not recognize him at all
    It happened like this every year
    But he doesn’t care, he knows what he did
    In all of those far away lands
    And he smiles as he buttons his uniform up
    With his heroic, shaky old hands

  2. The veterans’ parade was in full swing. Bands had marched past and the returning troops, in full dress regalia, were beginning to move down the street. The attention to detail that had put into this event was nothing, he thought, nothing to the finesse he had put into his event.

    He had planned this for years, ever since they turned him down. He could’ve been the next Patton. Mental problems, they claimed. Unfit. Sure. The hate he put into ever soldered connection, every twisted bolt, every jagged nail he had arranged delicately in each beautiful package would show them.

    He fingered the small box with the toggle in his pocket, smiling with pride at the passing parade of soldiers. The cold steel of his eyes and the evil upward curl of his lip bore out that his pride was different. The wafting Sousa marches only fueled his dementia. Soon, his proof would be evident. Blood was proof they were wrong. Blood he would claim with the single flick of a switch.

    A rousing cheer came from the crowd as a car carrying bird officers went past. The toggle in his pocket was silent in the roar as it moved to its final position. The storefront windows across the street seemed to fracture like ice on a pond as the force of the blast pushed them outward. As the blast from behind pushed him into the street, his one regret was that he’d never hear the screams that proved him right.

  3. Johnnie Came Marching Home by Timothy Hurley 249 words

    Johnnie walked from the medal ceremony feeling the congratulatory slaps rain down on his back. He stared, eyes forward, face implacable. Adrenaline pushed a volcano inside him to the edge of eruption. A taxi took him to the bar where he settled on a stool, ripped the medal from his shirt, and slammed it on the wood.

    The bartender shoved a glass of beer in front of him. “Welcome home, soldier. On the house.”

    A white-haired fellow ambled down the bar. “We gotta thank you boys.” Johnnie clenched his jaw, ground his teeth, and nodded without looking. Then he signaled for a second beer.
    “You showed ‘em they can’t take our freedoms.”

    Johnnie raised his hand like a traffic cop, “’Sokay.” Then he made a fist.

    “You defended our frigging freedoms, man.”

    Johnnie spit beer into his glass and yelled. “What about Stevie’s freedoms? He got his freedoms blown out with his guts. Did I defend him? I defended your freedom to fill your freaking pickup with four dollar gas.” He heaved his half-full glass, producing a near perfect star fracture on the mirror behind the bar. The sound silenced the bar. Johnnie reached into his pocket, pulled out a wad of twenties, and threw it on the bar. “That’s what they paid me for defending everyone’s freedoms.”

    The bartender held up a hand. “I don’t want your money. Go home. Rest.”

    Johnnie turned and pushed past the open-mouthed, white-haired fellow. “Don’t thank me again,” he said marching out.

  4. More than any other day of the year – more than his birthday, even – November 11th was his. No matter what I was doing, I always made sure to call to wish him a happy Veterans Day. He’d served in World War II – but it was more than that. It was more than the fact he’d aced his Army entrance exam. It was more than the fact he’d been shot numerous times during his service. It was more than the multiple Purple Hearts and the other decorations he’d received. It was that as a seventeen-year-old, he didn’t want to wait until he was eighteen to serve his country. He marched into that Army recruiting office and lied about his age so he could go to war and defend our liberty.

    I called him every November 11th until the day he died. That year, not knowing it would be his last, I’d applied to read names at the 20th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – November 11, 2002. I was accepted. The ceremony came just a few weeks after his death. I stood up on the podium with my list of names and looked out at the audience and the camera crews. My heart pounded. So many lives, and I was reading the names of twenty of them. It was an honor, but sadness hung over me. There would be no call this year. I read the names, one by one, as I’d rehearsed them many times before that to make sure each one was correctly pronounced. When I was done, I lingered one last second. I rose my gaze to heaven: to my Dad. It wasn’t by phone this year, but I hoped he got the call.

  5. The Girl Soldier by Melody Stiles

    She was fresh out of high school when she enlisted. She wanted to follow in his footsteps and make her father proud. Despite the pleadings of her older sister, she packed her one allowed bag and flew to boot-camp. She returned home to be in the Reserves.
    She learned how to make a bed with “military corners”.
    She met a guy. Came home and got married and they settled in for a life in a mobile home park, just down the highway from the Base and not that far from her parents. She caught her husband cheating on her two years in and left. If that wasn’t bad enough, he intentionally bankrupted her before signing the final papers.
    She finished her Master’s Degree, had breast reduction surgery and was promoted to the highest rank possible within the Reserves. Still, the men treated her differently.
    She was deployed twice after 9/11. Her older sister cried each time she left and returned. When she came home for the final time, she was awarded a Bronze Star. She was the first female Reservist in the history of her military branch to win the honor.
    Her entire family drove over to another state for the award ceremony.
    Her sister cried with pride, the knowledge of the irreparable scars endured and the sad truth that regardless of the Bronze Star, nothing would ever be good enough for Dad.

  6. The officer stood framed in the doorway, looked over the class of cadets, and began to speak.
    “Cadets, look around you at these walls. The portraits you see are the great heroes of this country. Eisenhower, Patton, Marshall, Grant, Jackson: great leaders all, but not the true heroes of this country. For these people, while they led armies into battle, actually planned the campaigns, and waited for the results. The true Americans heroes were the thousands of men and women under their command, the soldiers and sailors who fought and died, pushed forward and fell back, won…and lost battles.
    Brian Jenkins, John Willoughby, Paul Stone and thousands of others fought and died at these peoples commands so that you might enjoy the freedom to do what you’re doing; choosing your own destiny in the world. The bodies that fill the military and civilian graveyards are the bodies of our true heroes, and yet they are really nothing more than farmers, factory workers, students, people of every possible circumstance who answered the call of their President. They fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, Viet Nam, Korea, France, Germany, Mexico, and at places such as Shiloh, Gettysburg and Antietam. They fought for you and they fought for me, they fought for all Americans.
    Shortly, you will become lieutenants in our military. Some of you may have your portraits on these walls. But never forget who actually put you here…the true American heroes, the unknowns under your command.
    And now, by the right flank, March!”

  7. Gerald scanned the faces on either side of him – a mixture of young and old; male and female. Some wore the uniforms they had worn when in service to their country, just as he did. A newspaper photographer paused to take his picture. Seated in a wheelchair with his dress greens neatly pressed, the purple heart on his lapel – Gerald was the picture-perfect war hero.

    Groups of uniformed cadets made up much of the younger generation; kids aged twelve and up with aspirations of military careers. Some of them might see combat; some might not. Gerald hoped none of them would.

    War was hell, as the saying went, and Gerald knew all too well how true it was. But he wouldn’t have changed a thing. There were worse things to lose than just one’s legs. The names engraved on the stone memorial in front of him had lost their lives. They would never see their families again, or have the chance to find happiness with a new love, as he had.

    As he blinked back tears from his eyes he felt a reassuring hand on his shoulder. He looked up into the understanding eyes of his soul mate. Mike was not a veteran, but he would have fought bravely alongside his brothers if they had allowed him to enlist.

  8. Graduation Day from Navy boot camp. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a special day then because it fell on the day after Veterans’s Day. And what made it even more special for me was the fact our female instructor had gotten permission for our graduating class to turn our heads to the right as we marched in front of the parade stadium; not only where the high ranking military officials sat but also all our proud parents. It’s a day I’ll never forget, just as I’ll never forget our annual military family celebration of Veteran’s Day.

    I wake grandpa up early to get him ready in his Army uniform, one he was so very gratified to wear those many years ago during the Korean War. All the cousins, aunts and uncles and our spouses attend the annual bar-b-que. Everyone attending, who served in the military, wears the respective forces uniform from which we served and attend the city parade. We stand there tall and proud—I and my husband in our Navy regalia, mother’s uncles—Air Force, my female cousin—Air Force, three male cousins and my son in their Army uniforms, and we salute the others from within the parade.

    As an honored military family, we attend the Veteran’s Day Parade every year, come rain or shine. We proudly stand to honor all those who served before us, serving now and who will serve in the future to keep our country FREE! WE HONOR THEE!

  9. I remember my brothers and sisters killed in battle; how valiantly they fought right up until this last day. I know this is the message I must convey to the troop waiting before me. To this loyal troop who has been waiting to be deployed. The war is over and now they are anxiously awaiting word of who is left.

    I can still smell the seared flesh from the chemical bomb dropped on a hundred soldiers. I will always see the dead in my mind. Good people who fought for freedom and died such unspeakable deaths. There is no way I will ever recover from the devastation of so many lives lost.

    Yet, I know this is just the beginning. The beginning of tears, of funerals, and many remembrances of good days shared with laughter and joy. But how? Oh how, do I tell this troop as they look at me with expectation and fear, how do I tell them we lost the war…

  10. What You Take

    He clasps her hand and pulls her in close
    lights from the deck of the ship glow orange and the normally grey Puget Sound burns in the dark morning
    flakes float so quiet and collect on the northwest cedars and firs
    they dance a goodbye with Coleman Hawkins
    and with one small kiss he turns away
    He is deploying today with a full sea bag

  11. Title: A Veteran’s Legacy

    “Daddy, I can’t see.”
    “I’m sorry honey. Let me lift you up onto my shoulders.”
    “Bill, please be careful…you need to be careful.”
    “Daddy, what’s today?”
    “Today is Veterans’ Day.”
    “What’s that?”
    “It’s the day we honor those men and women who serve, or served, in the military.”
    “Like those men marching?”
    “Yes honey, like those men.”
    “They look like the picture of Grandpa.”
    “Yes they do. Do you remember the trip we took…the one where we saw all those white crosses?”
    “Yeah. I remember how pretty they looked, but you were crying.”
    “I know sweetie…I was thinking about Grandpa’s cross.”
    “Daddy look, there’s the American flag. Why are some people taking their hats off, and why are you saluting it?”
    “We’re paying respect for what it stands for.”
    “What does it stand for?”
    “Honey, you ask some tough questions. I’ll answer that later.”
    “Daddy, look at all those men wearing different clothes.”
    “Those are all the different branches of the service; each one has a different uniform.”
    “Daddy that one looks like the one you’re wearing.”
    “Yes, he’s a Marine.”
    “Does he fight in a war?”
    “I don’t know…possibly.”
    “Will he lose a leg too?”
    “I doubt it honey. Remember your question about the flag?”
    “Ah huh.”
    “Honey, look around you…everything you see, people risked their lives for, and for your right to ask all these questions.”
    “Daddy, will there be future veterans?”
    “Honey, I hope so.”

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