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MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE: Ballad of the Bloody Shoes

As I sat all alone in the courthouse square, an old man named Sam approached me there.

His once-dark locks were now all gray. His eyes were bright, sharp, and clear. They pierced your soul, your heart, your mind, and showed not a trace of fear.

He looked tired and weary, aged past his years. His lips held a smile, but his hand wiped a tear

It was then I noticed the blood on his shoes. I feared he was injured, and wondered what I should do.

“Mister, I said, what happened to you? Where did that blood come from, that stain on your shoes?”

He simply smiled at me and briefly said, “It’s nothing to fear. That’s some blood I stepped in. It’s supposed to be here.”

Upon hearing his reply, I scratched my head. How could it be true, the strange thing that he said?

“Perhaps you’d care to have a seat and tell me of the blood that marks your feet.”

“Why, thank you, sir. I’d be thankful to share. So many in your town, they no longer care.”

“Now tell me,” I asked. “What of the blood. What is its origin? Where is it from?”

“When I purchased these shoes, they were fresh and clean, the envy of nations, no blood could be seen.

“My shoes were first marred on Lexington green, when I took my stand at the frightful scene.

“Minutemen were fallen all upon the ground. Their guns lay beside them. There was scarcely a sound.

“Their blood nourished the soil and brought freedom to the world. An idea was conceived and a flag was unfurled.

“I stained the snow in Valley Forge, my feet throbbing with pain. My garments were tattered and I had nothing to eat. But my shoes were not bloody; there were none for my feet.

“We climbed in the boats and launched from the shore. We won the battle in Trenton and I acquired some more.

“But my journey continued and the shoes walked on. The challenges were many and the threats were not gone.

“The oil-marked seas were roiling with flame. Sailors were dying, calling Mom’s name.

“Zeroes were coming, dropping bombs all around, but my shoes were washed clean as the Oklahoma went down

“But I swam out of the Harbor and continued my trek, taking my place on a carrier deck.

“As Doolittle’s Raiders flew away from the ship, with Tokyo’s shores the aim of their trip.

They struck at their homeland and won some payback for home. But the blood on my shoes was now Tokyo’s own.

“My shoes sprinted through the blood on Omaha’s shore. The beaches were littered with men who stood tall. But the soldiers kept coming, bringing down Hitler’s great wall.

“I stepped in the blood of dark Iwo’s shore. Marines gave their lives and their valor was sure.

“On that dark, lonely isle, my shoes were bright red. I walked through the fallen and wept over the dead. Moving from one to another, seeking out a count, but my tears washed aside the blood, as they raised a flag on the Mount.

“These shoes were stained so many times since, whenever life is in danger and freedom’s at risk.

“The blood on these shoes is precious to me. Every drop was earned, by those who died and made us free.

“I continue to wear them, even though they are old. They remind me of battles and heroes untold. They speak to our heritage, the brave and the bold. And I’ll proudly wear them, until my body is cold.

“Yes, these shoes are bloody, my friend. But they are tested and true and will carry me to the end.”

“Where can I get these shoes to wear for myself? Tell me what store and the place on the shelf.”

“You already have them,” the gentlemen said. “They were purchased for you by the brave and the dead. You have only to wear them and recall what they’re for. And be thankful for those who bought them before. Remember their sacrifice and know they’ll buy more.”


R.G. Yoho

R.G. Yoho is a Western author who has published seven books, including “Death Comes to Redhawk,” along with a non-fiction work entitled “America’s History is His Story.”