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It's just a story, by Capt. Dave Keith

Freedom Isn't Free

The old man watched the carpetbagger as he stepped down from the train
He popped his shoe shine rag really loud, in a joyful way
How’s a ‘bout it Mister………..Would you like a shine, was his old refrain
The Dapper Dan thought to himself, what the heck, the old man needs to make his way

As the gentleman of status stepped up in the chair
He saw for the first time the old man had lost his right eye
But he, was just a servant….What lit’l was it for him to care
As he spread the wax with is hands, the suited man thought, glad that’s not I

As the old man buffed and huffed, a shine was a rising to the high
The gentleman looked down as the old man labored so
And wonder how he’d come to lose that eye
Part of him wanted to ask…..But did he real care to know

As curiosity won out over him, he asked, How’d you loss your sight
Oh mister, it’s a long story from oh so long ago
But if you really want to know, I think we have the time, if I might
I was just a boy, on a farm in the South, just a boy of ten or so

Oh, now I can see it all, in my mind my grand father running to the house
He gathered me from the garden and rushed to summons his daughter and my sister
He herded us in the cellar and covered us with a tarp, we kept as quiet as a mouse
I watched through a tear in the canvas, Grandpa on the porch with his old shotgun…
With the hammers drawn back……….That gun he called Ol Mister

As the troops dismounted in the yard………I heard the shotgun blast and all the rifle fire
I thought it would never end. They went through the house and searched er good
They came out a joking and a laughing like from this duty they would never tire
One came out, eating on a can of peaches, they busted off some siding and set a match to the wood

As we watched the red blazes rise to the blue, the soldiers mount up and merrily rode away
As the tears rolled down my mother’s face, her just a cling to the family Bible and lettin’ out a moan
I was just a boy….I didn’t know how to swear an oath, but the pain in my heart still lingers there today
What now lays in ruin behind the flames, a house, our house, where five generations had called home

My mother dug my father’s rifle out of it hiding spot in the shed,
We started up the road afoot you see, just us three
My thoughts of my older brother, I can see him now, so handsome, now he’s dead
They say he died up near Nashville, a place called Franklin, I do believe

Oh, how I wish I could have been there with him and his rebel band, for to wage
This little family had saw so much death, tis we pray every nite for restoration of the right
He said I was much too young and to wait till I became of age
I have learnt over the times, even right is not all……It must be backed by might

Some men stopped to help us as we traveled up the road
They took my father’s rifle from my mother’s hand, oh my
As one reached to pull the Bible from my grasp, I screamed No!
I turned to run and one struck me with his rifle, the front sight catching me in the eye

I fell and the water ran down my cheek, he kicked our Bible in the ditch all the sames
You’re not going to need that where you’re gonna wind up at
How I hate to think of it now…….That ol family Bible held all our names
They loaded us in the back……….As he put me on, he slapped me with his hat

I could see the smoke a rising and hear the shots, as we pulled up, another house a burning
A man lay in the front yard with rifle in hand, his wife close by and a baby by her side
They just waved us on, we never slowed, never looked back at what we were seeing
Even at my age, I ponder how this could be right, no it couldn’t be, I don’t want to be on their side

From the train they dropped us at a camp where the wire was high and saggin’ in,
They gave us cornbread and water and a few clothes to wear, it was hot in summer and cold in winter
I worked there all my life, giving all I had to give; I haven’t saw my mother or sister never again
I just no good no more for work, so I just shine folks’s shoes now in days, in the station here

Wells, like I said my family had saw a lot of death, you see
My father was killed, in a far away place called Afghanistan
And his father was killed on a ship in the South China Sea
The thing I missed the most…….I never got to be, a free man

The carpetbagger looks oh so confused and felt a faint pain of guilt
He looked at the old man and asked, when was it, all this did take place
When you lost your eye, as he reached for his wallet his countenance began to wilt
As the old man straighten up his back, the memories began to flood his face

As best I recall, it was in the late spring,
I was working in the garden
And everything was green.

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