The flag rippled and fluttered in the wind, catching the eye of Command Sergeant Major Hill. Another Veterans Day, he thought, and I'm still here. The number of stars on the flag had changed since the first days at Benning, when CSM Hill was PVT Hill. He had been just too young for Iraq and Afghanistan, but he had caught the next one. It had been a short but brutal affair, in a country no one would have predicted in the days of the War on Terror.
He wore the combat patch on his right shoulder. It was from an old division, one that had cased its colors nearly two decades ago. In fact, CSM Hill had the distinction of being the last remaining soldier in the Army to have a combat patch at all. The world had changed after the bombs fell, and concerns had turned homeward.
There were other veterans, to be sure, those who, like CSM Hill, had seen cities disappear and borders change. They, however, had all moved on to civilian life, to retirement, to regular careers. CSM Hill stayed on, though his mandatory retirement age was drawing near.
Decades of peace could be hard on a soldier, though his wife, kids, and grand-kids were glad to have him around. And there was always something to do. Soldiers these days were soft, not like in the old days. CSM Hill gave the flag a sharp salute, and continued on his way, rolling on as the Army ever had and ever would.