Toy Soldier

It couldn’t have been less than 50 degrees outside, but I was convinced that I was freezing to death. I hated being cold. More than being cold, I hated working funeral services in the cold.

Riverside National is a beautiful cemetery—one of my favorites. The massive fountain that you pass upon entry, the memorial walls—it’s a beautiful park. Normally, I loved being there, but on that day,  I was cold.

Gerald was a veteran, and was a military man through and through. This meant that the service was full of military references, bagpiping, and the ceremonial folding of the American flag.

His daughter rose from her seat and stood, sharing what I’m sure were memories of her childhood and the time she’d spent with her father. I didn’t know, occasionally I tuned out on what was happening during the service, only tuning back in for key phrases that let me know where I needed to be next.

Then, I saw him.

A young boy, who couldn’t be older than 10, standing at attention by the column nearest me. Like a toy soldier, his small hand graced his brow as he saluted his grandpa. He stood, small but mighty, and did not speak.

Upon the completion of the military honors, one of the guards looked at the small boy and winked.

He stood even straighter and beamed with pride.

After the service, I walked over to the boy and said “Aren’t you quite the soldier? How were you able to stand during this whole service with no jacket?”

“Grandpa says cold is in the mind. With focus, you can last through anything.”

Feeling rather sheepish, I pulled my coat tighter around myself and said goodbye to the family, and excused myself.

With enough focus, you can last through anything. 

Whenever I’m feeling lazy or unmotivated, I think about the toy soldier, standing at attention in tribute to his grandfather and remember, if a 10 year old can focus, I sure as hell can too.

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