Home of the Brave


I am an imaginary old man. I am a compilation of stories. I am every World War II veteran you never knew. Each faceless GI from the bygone European War. I am in my late 90s and 100s now. Young people don’t remember me, but I’m still here. For now.

I was one of the hundreds of thousands of infantrymen, airmen, sailors, marines, mess sergeants, seabees, brass hats, engineers, doctors, medics, buck privates, and rear-echelon potato-peelers.

We hopped islands in the Pacific. Served in the African war theater. We beat the devil, then came home and became the old fart next door.

We were babies. Wartime was one heckuva time to be young. We went overseas as teenagers, smooth skinned, scared spitless, with government haircuts, wearing brand new wedding rings. We hadn’t seen action, so we were jittery. We smoked through a week’s rations of Luckies in one day.

Then it happened. It was different for everyone, but it happened. You had your first taste of war.

Shells landed. People screamed. And in an instant, your fear melted and you had a war job to do. It didn’t matter who you were or which post was yours. Everyone worked in the grand assembly line of battle. And when the smoke cleared and the action was over, we had new confidence in ourselves, and we were no longer boys.

Anyway, dear reader, we weren’t just boys, we were girls, too. There were a lot of females serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II. People forget that.

Speaking of women. We guys were always talking about our sweethearts, wives, and mothers. If you mentioned someone’s girl a man was liable to talk for hours about her. And even if you’d already seen his wallet photos before, you never interrupted a guy talking about his gal. Because eventually you’d be talking about yours.

Of course the infantrymen had it hardest. They lived like pack mules. Their boots got wet, their feet swelled, and their flesh became waterlogged. The funny thing is, even though they marched through hell, they didn’t want to leave their posts. Many had to be dragged away cussing and kicking. That’s how committed these guys were.

Oh, and the food was godawful. You learned to appreciate the rarity of a creative company cook. In Italy, you could buy eggs from local merchants for outrageously inflated prices. One time I knew a guy who paid $50 for 32 eggs. He cooked them all in his tent one night and ate every one. I asked why he did this. He said he didn’t want to die without tasting eggs one last time.

A lot of guys brought banjos, guitars, and fiddles over there. We’d square dance and laugh. Others would sit on their helmets, smoking, thinking of home, wiping their eyes.

The Germans had a radio station that broadcasted American stuff like Bing and Frank. Between songs, a German gal named Axis Sally spoke over the airwaves to us GIs in a sexy voice, trying to mess with our heads.

She would speak flawless English and say, “Give up, boys, there’s no point trying, you can’t win. Everyone hates you. Your girls are at home cheating on you, they don’t love you anymore…”

This was supposed to discourage us, of course, but it usually just made us laugh. Or cry. Or both.

When the war ended, dear Young Person, we felt too much joy at once. Those of us overseas immediately wrote letters to family and told our wives we were coming home, told our kids to grease up their baseball gloves. Our letters were covered in little wet polka dots.

Stateside, there were huge celebrations happening. Sailors climbed lampposts to unfurl flags. Infantrymen stood on rooftops, toasting mugs of homebrew. Mothers were frying chickens out the wazoo.

People partied everywhere from San Bernardino to Flatbush. Big cities, little towns, the rural parts between. Ticker tape parades. Auto processions. There were girls who would kiss any guy in government clothes.

But you know what I still think about, dear Young Person? I think about all the guys who never got kissed again. Our men who still lie in the soil. These were men who fell upholding the mantle of the unalienable American spirit, the Blessings of Liberty.

They didn’t know they were heroes. They were the kids next door. But, oh, they were Children of God. And they proved, beyond speculation, that even hellfire cannot kill the great idea that is America.

So on this Fourth of July, I hope you don’t forget about them, dear Young Person. Because as they were waving the Flag of Freedom, they never forgot about you.


  1. Theresa Clark - July 4, 2023 12:55 pm

    Thank you! 🇺🇸🇺🇸❤️🤍💙

  2. Goober Fife - July 4, 2023 1:02 pm

    Amen Seam….About Says it All!

  3. Cathy Moss - July 4, 2023 2:25 pm

    We are indebted to them forever. We owe then everlasting respect and should feel honored to stand for patriotic songs and to be able to place our hands over our hearts when it is appropriate. Hero’s . Every single one. God bless America❤️🙏🏻

  4. Bruce Rogers - July 4, 2023 3:24 pm

    Thank you Sean. God Bless America.


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