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  • We "scored free tickets" to the auto show and it was deep into claustrophobic, winter so we went. I waited for Scott to park the car, and walk the long selfless trek across the the frozen parking lot (which I did not have to suffer because he was willing to go it alone) and join me in the lobby before going into the main hall to see the hot, newest cars that I held no interest in nor could I afford. In the lobby I noticed a traveling "Hero's Exhibit" put in place by the VFW.
    A long row of metal frames holding pictures and memorabilia of the local soldiers killed in Iraq & Afghanistan. Pictures of Women & Men officially stuffed seriously military dress. Next to these pictures of soldiers from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and places in the Midwest were other pictures. Pictures of: A 12 year Soccer player, 30 year old new fathers, 22 year old Mountain Biker and 7 year old horseback rider missing front teeth. Pictures of who they were before they were Soldiers and of who they wanted to be when they came home. Pictures of happy families embracing, clowning, living their short lives, together, the way we do here in the Midwest, the way people do in so many places.
    Pinned next to many of the pictures, the surprise of artifacts of these lives: letters tucked in the protection of plastic baggies, telling us of the space this father or child or lover has left that will, forever, lay vacant for so many reasons. The pieces caught me; so many wilted roses tucked next to the pictures like dying dreams, the last set of car keys( or was it the first?), cheer leading pom poms and the jersey.
    A large dark haired man, the type you might see exit a semi truck full of lumber, slowly walked along the isle next to me with his buddy, I heard him say "I had no idea there were this many from Iowa". He voiced my thoughts, I wanted to add "or Nebraska or..." He stopped in front of me and held the chain of people behind me that had been moving together at a pall bearer's pace. He found a name and face he knew. He talked about the the boy being only 21. He looked up and saw the boy's high school basketball jersey hanging like a resting flag next to the group shot of the boy with his winning team. His rough hands stoked the green fabric in urgent, disbelief, his voice broke and he began to cry all the while holding the jersey. He kept repeating to his friend who patted his back awkwardly, "It's his jersey. How did they get this? It's his jersey, man, I can't believe they have his jersey..."
    The 40 or so people browsing the exhibit from both sides and I, paused to watch him, to appreciate his tears as our own tears the ones we were too stuborn or jaded to cry as we are faced with this overwhelming tragic spectacle . Several people began to cry in unison, I guess it finally seemed okay.
    Scott showed up the cold of his walk rising from his jacket "Are you ready to go into the Auto Show?"
    "Okay, sure but you have to see this exhibit first. Everyone should".
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