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PEACE IN OUR TIME by Carrie Vaughn

Carrie Vaughn‘s “Peace In Our Time” is a story about the last man standing, when war is fought by machines.

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Peace In Our Time

by Carrie Vaughn

Two trumpets in harmony called Taps through a cemetery at the edge of a winter prairie. The congregation stayed rigid, forced to stillness by the song. Ken and I stood on the other side of the grave, apart from the others. The last sad note held, echoing with the wind, and faded. Ken shut off the digital player, and I presented the flag.

The words came rote. I didn’t hear myself saying them. They were a continuation of the recording.

“On behalf of the United States of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Eternity presents this token of respect and appreciation for your husband’s service to his country.”

We had a recording of Taps because no one could play it on horn anymore. Matt Barber was the last one I knew who could do it, and he died five years ago. I gave the flag to his son at his funeral.

I had done this so many times, given tightly folded triangles of American flags to widows, sons, daughters, grandchildren. No matter what cheap funeral plan was picked, the tradition is everything that matters. I never wanted to give away one. When I was twenty-one and coming home from China I thought I was done with death. But it started again, a dozen or so years ago. Now, I watched my friends fall to old age, and once again there was nothing I could do but stand at their funerals. I hated this duty then and I hated it now. But someone had to do it. Someone had to stand at attention by the caskets, play Taps, and carry the flag to the family.

There were only two of us left. Continue reading PEACE IN OUR TIME by Carrie Vaughn