Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day 2, Questions of Honor, Gifts of Heart

I was getting ready to go out again this morning near dawn. As I was saddling Casey I was interrupted by Silas and two friends from the Raven Soldiers. Silas began by asking "How much honor do you require?" I looked puzzled. He asked again. I said "Honor is something that only has value when it is given. Honor demanded is worthless." Silas said "That is what we have taught you. What do you believe?" I said "I believe that teaching. I have found it true."

Silas then says "Why do you deny these good people their part in the dance? They find no place here because you are always out there. By yourself. You're tired, you need to sleep. Let them take their part." I said nothing, just handed the reins to the man next to Silas.

After I had taken a quick nap, I put a bareback pad on Sally and rode out to where the dancers sit. I saw the Stands Beside for a young man who is in the army. He is deploying again to Iraq in a few months. I rode up and asked the Stands Beside if I might sit with the young man and smoke a pipe. He signaled for me to follow.

When I arrived I said nothing. I just sat before this young man and began to fill my pipe with wild tobacco and mint leaves. I lit and took four puffs to each direction. I passed it to the Stands Beside, who smoked and gave it to the young man.

I was wearing my bone choker. With its antique beads from some of the first trading the Apache did with the Americans. At the bottom of the center spacer I wear the medal portion of my Silver Star. The young man was looking at the medal intently. We continued smoking.

When the pipe was finished I sat for several more minutes. Before I got up to leave I reached up and untied the choker. Then I removed the medal. I held the medal in my left hand and the choker in my right. I held out my left hand and said "This is mine." I closed my hand and put it into my pocket. I laid the choker on the blanket in front of the young man and said "This is yours."

I rode to where my cousin was sitting and gave a nod of thanks to the man watching over him. I went to my cousin and sat down. We said nothing for a long time.

I went back to my camper and slept like a baby.



Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

i wish i could breathe the smoke in the air for just a moment.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that young man was powerfully moved by your gesture.

My niece at 16 was a pregnant high school dropout. Five years later, with only a GED, she asked me about pursuing a career as a pilot. I gave her advice and encouragement. Now at 27 she has a college degree and is in the right seat of an American Eagle regional jet. On her first visit after completing flight training I took her to dinner and gave her a set of my USAF command pilot wings. A happy moment for both of us.

11:49 AM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

I sincerely like you in a cyber friend sort of way. You're a good man.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love reading your stories and greatly appreciate that you choose to share them with us. Thank you.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MB...valor is best when shared. My thanks to you and that young man, my prayers for warriors and their protection ..

9:21 AM  

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