#279 Badges and Medals

by Bobby Siebert

Andy reached under his pillow and drew out a postcard. Light glinted off the glossy surface. The photo showed a towering mosque, built of sandstone blocks, surrounded by turrets.

When first Andy got the postcard, he couldn’t keep his eyes off the photo.

“Mommy, why is this church yellow?”

“They don’t call them churches, honey. Where your dad’s at, they call them mosques, and they’re made of sandstone,” his mom said.

“You mean Iraq? Is everything made of sand there?”

“No, darling. But some of their buildings are. Iraq has a lot of sand, in the desert. You remember what a desert looks like?”

“Mmhmm. Like Aladdin!”

“That’s right, darling. Like Aladdin.”

“When’s he coming back?”

“One more year, darling. They say he might even come earlier. So we have to pray for him.”

“I miss him. I wish he didn’t have to go to war.”

“Me too. But you should be proud of your brave daddy. He even wears a uniform with badges and medals!”

“I know, mommy.”

“You should sleep now. Keep this under your pillowcase, so your daddy stays close to you. Okay?”

Andy kept the light on and stared at the sandstone mosque a bit longer.

“Lieutenant Warner!” a man’s voice. “We need a translator over here!”

“Yes, sir!”

Andy put the postcard under his pillow. He donned his uniform—with badges and medals. One particular medal, dulled by age and the tears that had fallen upon it, had come back to the desert once again.

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