The Patriot's Question: A Mini-Memoir

By John M. Brooks
John M. Brooks


A tall black Marine stood across from me at the motel registration desk. His uniform was filled with service medals and his sleeves dominated by sergeant stripes and gold hash marks. I knew enough about military medals from my mandatory ROTC classes to recognize him as a decorated and honored defender of our country, an image he likely meant to convey. I admired him, but did not envy his job.

It was 1963, and our country was in the middle of the Vietnam War. I was nineteen and working as a motel night clerk in Springfield, Missouri, struggling to pay my way through college and hoping not to be drafted.

The Funerals: A Mini-Memoir

Michael Humphrey
By Michael Humphrey

I sang at four funerals in my life: My maternal grandparents, my dad, and the mother of a best friend. Each funeral was different and important, and I gave my best.

The first was for Grandpa Pence at the funeral home in Maryville, Missouri. Mom picked out the hymn. The casket was in a narrow alcove about ten feet wide and twenty feet deep. The family was off to the right behind a curtain. I never really understood that. We couldn’t see who was there. I sang behind the