This article belongs to In Search of Laughs! column.


(A parade of heroes)


There's a local legend in Washington, D.C. It's rumored that some nights there are strange goings on at the National Mall.  For those who are there to behold (and believe), ghosts still stroll that hallowed ground.


One windy and clear night, I beheld (and believed) such sights. It was after midnight, near the Lincoln Memorial, that I came upon a hunched-over old man, wearing a reversed USA ball cap.  I perceived he was talking to himself. Later, I came to think he was conversing with the founding forefathers and others that are still valued and remembered by America.


As I gave ground to show him respect, I could tell by what he said, and how he acted, that this was Uncle Sam!  This wizened octogenarian paced to and fro to beat the band. One moment he seemed distraught, the next, he seemed to weep, but he wasn't whining!  Uncle Sam does not whine!


At first, it sounded like he was bitching to Tommy Jefferson and Jimmy Madison. Then, he stood up for the war protestors. (Sam didn't support the protestors, but he said he'd fight for their right to dissent!  He still remembered all those wooden crates of tea floating in Boston harbor.) Throughout, Uncle Sam paced back and forth.  First, he'd lament, and then he'd weep. 


The first thing I heard clearly was his sadness at the hungry kids and ailing elderly in our country, and then . . . Uncle Sam cried!


Next, he bitterly complained about governmental corruption, and all of the ignored Veterans, some returning home from war . . . and Uncle Sam cried!


Then, this soul of the country, vented his disgust about Pearl Harbor, and the Twin Towers in New York City . . . and Uncle Sam cried even harder!


Lastly, our metaphoric leader was in absolute disbelief remembering Columbine High School and what Katrina and FEMA wrought in New Orleans and many nearby communities . . . and Uncle Sam cried!


During these apropos tirades against injustices, Uncle Sam was visited by some offering succor! First Lady Liberty, in her wind tossed robes, gave the old man a hug and commiserated.  Next, a soaring eagle dropped in on a fast breeze and reminded his pal they both had that "sea to shining sea!" thingy still goin' on!  That helped a little.


Lastly, hundreds of soldiers with various wounds (some wounds seen, some wounds unseen) made a valiant stand to rally behind this elderly citizen that wore, and bled, red, white, and blue. The warriors were in platoon formation in an endless line reaching all the way back to Arlington National Cemetery.


Many comforted Uncle Sam and mentioned they did not believe their lives were wasted. A sailor reminded Sam about hope and democracy being on the rise in our world. Several airmen added that America has had record crops and profits. Two Marine Corps sergeants chimed in that minority advancement is up, and a Leatherneck corporal even mentioned C-SPAN!


One weary, battered Coast Guard rescue swimmer really did the trick though!

He pointed out the dominant fact that pretty much chased away Uncle Sam's tears.  This young man, who, every day, put his life on the line for other people, mentioned we should think about the children of America. Because now, he said, this generation of America's children has the best chance of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . . better than all the generations before them put together! And isn't that what all of us are here for?  We all reflected on this truth.


Suddenly, once again, we were alone, that Uncle Sam guy, and me, we were alone.  Uncle Sam's demeanor had changed to an assured posture.  He wasn't happy with the way some things stood, but he knew that life was getting better for his citizens, and for now . . . that was good enough.


I last saw the old guy meandering towards the Washington Monument, whistling. It seemed to me, and I'm not really sure, but I think Uncle Sam was whistling "The Battle Hymn of the Republic!"


But that's just how I remember it.