Freedom Rings (thongs and a Memorial Day tribute)


“Freedom isn’t free.”
Colonel Walter Hitchcock

He walked into the jewelry store and stood in line behind me while I waited at the counter to pick up my repaired rings.

While the clerk figured my bill, the gentleman stood patiently with the help of his cane. He mentioned to the lady working the counter that he was having trouble getting around. I turned to face him while he spoke. I would have never guessed he was in a moment’s pain, not by the gentle expression on his face.

When he finished talking, I noticed he was looking at my feet.

“I saw those thongs everywhere in Japan, just never thought they’d make their way over here. Only thing, the ladies over there wore them with socks jammed in between their toes,” he said.

I knew exactly the look he was talking about. Dad, during his 20 plus years in the Air Force, brought back dolls from overseas, ones dressed in thongs with socks jammed in between their toes.

Dad’s tours of duty were served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. My newfound soldier friend also served in the Korean War, as well as World War II. He looked about the age my dad would be if still alive. Maybe they were together in Korea, I thought.

I headed out, but not before saying, “Thank you for fighting so we don’t have to.”

He started to answer, but choked on his words.

He looked patriotic and proud.

He looked a bit like Dad.

What’s your story of patriotism this Memorial Day? Maybe a parent in the military? Maybe your own military service?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I’ll likely never run into that soldier again, but I hope I never forget all he represents. Men and women who put their comfort and safety aside for our country and our freedom.

On the lighter side: Not only did we Americans skip the socks, we also changed the name to flip flops. Good thing since thongs no longer denote footwear.


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