To the soldier who rescued our flag in the rain

It fell down when the bracket broke
while I was away at work.
I called my wife as soon as it started raining
to have her shelter anything that was outside.
She was at home taking care of two babies
by herself and couldn’t answer the phone.
The fabric of the flag got soaked in the pouring rain,
and the extra weight bent the bracket down
until the flag slipped out and fell
to the ground under the dripping eaves of the house.
You saw it there—the flag for which which you had given
your sweat and blood and so much of your life,
the flag you defended overseas,
the flag for which your buddies died in the dirt—
you saw it there, caked in mud, and
you didn’t even hesitate.

Though I wasn’t there I can almost see you,
propping your collar up against the
soaking sheets of incoming water
as you slammed the car door
then raced across the swampy grass
in shoes far less suited than combat boots
to pick up the flag and roll it carefully
before knocking on the door
to hand it to my wife.
You told her that you were a soldier,
and that the mud was
“no place for a flag to be.”

Dear soldier who rescued our flag in the rain,
Lest you consider me indifferent,
I want you to know that I have the deepest respect
for men and women like you
who have sacrificed to sustain a country
in which I can leave my wife and daughters at home,
and know they’ll be dry and safe from the storms of the world.

Dear soldier who rescued our flag in the rain,
I want you to know that I honor our flag
and all it represents,
which is why I fastened the bracket
to the front of my house and proudly
fly it there as often as I can, and
I want to tell you how grateful I am
that you braved yet another storm
to uphold and protect our flag.