Veterans Day | Sonny's Story


I pulled into the parking lot at work at 8:00 this morning and had a customer waiting in the parking lot for me. 

This is typically never a good way to start a day, much less a Monday.  However, whatever may come of it, it was worth it to have the almost twenty minutes that gentleman sat in my office with me (my computer unfailingly takes 10 minutes to boot up if there's a customer waiting on it).

This customer (I'll use his childhood nickname of "Sonny") asked for the date while filling out his check and I gave it to him and commented that it was the observance of Veterans Day and asked if he'd served. 

"Twenty-four years with the Corps." he casually told me. 

And the story began.

After falling on hard times, his parents and each of their kids, moved to his grandparents' farm where they each got up and worked from sun-up to sun-down.

One day while working in the field, his grandma drove up in the carriage and angrily ordered him get into the buggy.  He did, curious as to why she was so upset with him, and she drove him off to the house where he found Federal Agents waiting on them.

His first question to them was what he'd done to get in trouble.  The agents assured him that he wasn't in trouble, he had been drafted to serve his country.  Sonny refused to talk to them, however, until they informed his Grandmama that he hadn't actually done anything wrong.  They were able to explain it to her and then they continued on with their conversation.

Sonny and his dad were later discussing which unit he'd join, his dad recommending the Army but Sonny was firm that he wanted to join the Marine Corps and so the week after they filled up with gas (at that time the gas pumps required filling a glass cylinder with the number of gallons you wanted), they paid their 10¢ per gallon and were on their way.

After filling out the paperwork, the drafting officer told him to report back in a few days for duty.

His dad was outraged and informed the officer that it cost him 25¢ to get him down here, the papers were signed, and Sonny was their problem now.  His dad left and the Marine Corp had to put him and a few other officers up in a hotel for a few days.

He shipped out to California for his training (I believe he said he was gone 18 weeks) and when he got off the train back in Arkansas, he thumbed a ride with a peddler back to his grandparents farm. When he got out of the car he found his father and grandfather on the porch.  The dog met him with a growl, but he rubbed the dog and played with his ears and let him get a good sniff of him.  After appeasing the dog, his dad told him "I don't know who you are, but that dog seems to.  What business do you have here?"

He told his dad who he was and his dad asked for his papers to make sure he had leave to be home.

The following morning at 4:30 a.m. his dad woke him by shaking his bed.  Sonny leapt out of the bed with a "Yes Sir".  His dad laughed and decided he'd learned something while he was gone after-all.  Sonny was confused at the early-morning wakeup and his dad reminded him that he'd worked that farm all his life, his 14 day leave wasn't a vacation (as he'd thought it would be) it was merely back to work.

After his leave he was shipped over to Korea.  Like many Veterans he skipped over the details of his time overseas but he mentioned that he'd had his money sent home while he was gone.  When he returned he asked his dad to take him to the bank so he could go buy himself a car.

"Well, son...we need to talk about your money," his dad told him.  The family had fallen on hard times and had to use all of the money Sonny had earned.  Without an apology, Sonny accepted it and continued on.

Later, after his father and then his grandfather had passed, his grandmother told him that when she passed the farm would be his.

Confused--as he certainly never wanted the farm--he asked her why.

"All that money of yours that we had to take from you...this farm is yours.  We owe it to you."

The 1,100 acre farm that his grandfather had bought for $30/acre he later sold for $450,000.  And--thanks to having saved some documents from his grandmother--he didn't have to pay a penny's worth of tax on it either.

And just like that, he thanked me for my time, I thanked him for his service and sharing his story with me, and he left. 
Ashley Harris Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.