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Black Sheep

     You might not be proud of me.  I think I've always been the black sheep of the family, and I'm probably a little blacker now by your standards.  It's been eating at me a little more than I've been willing to admit.
     I knew you were annoyed with me my last year back home.  You thought I was hanging out with the wrong friends.  To be honest, I was pretty irritated with the rules you were always trying to tie me down with.  Things just don't come as easy for me as they do for Harry or Frank or Thomas, and I hated that you wanted me to be exactly like them.
     But that look in your eyes when I signed up with our nation's armed forces -- that's what got me.  There was hope in your eyes.  Not just a surface hope, but a deep, desperate hope.  That's when I realized how much pain I caused you every day.  And I vowed I was going to be a good boy from then on.  I could tell that you figured the military would reform me, and I started to believe it myself.
      Well, guess what.  You know those wild friends of mine that you hated?  There's plenty more of them here.  I don't know where we got the idea that the military was like an intensive Sunday School program, but we were mistaken.  I've picked up some habits that would make all of you cringe.
      I guess I'm a little confused maybe.  What exactly defines good?  The more of the world I see, the wider definitions I run across.  Is it just what you eat or drink?  Whether you smoke or not?  The scars you carry or don't carry?  Is it just how you treat people?  Or how you treat yourself?  Does it matter how you fit into society?  Or what company you keep?  Whether you can be trusted?
      What if I'm not as bad as you always seemed to think? What if you are worse on the inside than our little community back home ever suspected?  What is the standard?  What really matters when you weigh a person?
      I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.  I ran into the chaplain the other day, and we talked for a long time.  He's got his head on straight, and he told me some Bible stuff that made sense in a way that it hasn't before.  I never really thought of that Book as a practical one, but I've got questions and it seems like it has some answers.  I'm kind of hoping I run into the chaplain again tonight.
     It's been good for me to come here, I think, although maybe not in the way you expected.  I'm glad I joined up.
     We're shipping out tomorrow, and I'm going to do my part to save the world.  Then you can change that look in your eyes from hope to pride.  I might not be a quiet little community boy, but I'm out here on the front lines making it possible for all your boys to have their quiet little communities.
     Au revoir...


  1. Thank you!
    This is part of Emily Putzke's Monthly "They Have A Story" link-up. You can find the other stories written for this picture by going to Emily's post at

  2. This was wonderful, I enjoyed it!

  3. Awesome job! I feel like I know him so well, and all just because of one letter :)


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