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2013-03-28 digital edition

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2013-03-28 / General Stories

Home Country

by Slim Randles


Slim Randles Slim Randles We buried Marshall Sprack last Saturday, and we will miss him. Ol’ Marsh was the cheerful old-timer who could be seen each day walking his two tiny dogs around the neighborhood. He always had a smile and wave for everyone.

He was a very private guy, however. We all knew him, but didn’t really know him, if you get my drift.

He’d been retired for more years than some young married folks here had been alive. And he wasn’t the kind of guy who needed to come down to the Mule Barn coffee shop and settle the world’s troubles like the rest of us do. He stayed home and he walked the dogs.

We didn’t really know Marshall Sprack until Saturday, really. On Saturday, as we gathered to say goodbye to him, the military honor guard showed up. He was buried in his dress uniform from a war most of us can’t remember. His medals were on display next to the casket. The honor guard carried his flag-draped coffin to the gravesite, and other honor guards fired a three-volley salute to Marsh. Then the flag was folded carefully into a tight triangle and presented to Marshall’s daughter.

When the chaplain rose to speak to us, it was about Master Sergeant Sprack. It turned out that Marsh did things in combat that none of us could imagine him, or anyone else, doing. Later, we said the miracle of Marsh’s life was that he made it home. Now, at last, we understood the reason for his slight limp. And we can also understand a bit more why he didn’t go in for the shallow, flippant conversation we practice daily. He had things he could have said, but he didn’t have to because he knew them.

Well, we started out on Saturday thinking we were burying our old pal Marsh, the morning dog walker. But by the time that bugler played “Taps,” we realized that we didn’t bury him at all. His country showed up to bury him and say goodbye.

Marsh … thank you.

Brought to you by Home Country (the book). See it at http:/ /nmsantos.com/Books/Home/ Home.html

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