True Heroes

Written in 2006, edited in 2007.
By Blueowl

Characters: Jed, Todd Racey, Deanne, Charlie, Ron and some others.
Description: I was no Hero, I was among them.'
Disclaimer: You hopefully by now know which characters are mine and which belong to NBC, WB, and Aaron Sorkin, so I'll just leave it as that. :)
Warning: Possible Tear-Jerker.
A/N:
This is sort of a little different from my normal Todd Racey stories since I added a mild dose of ghost-like qualities.
This story is dedicated to those in which are commemorated by the WW2 Memorial.
A HUGE GIGANTIC Thanks to: babyphd; the one who suggested the WW2 Memorial focus as well as giving me all the information on it that I would possibly want. And a special thanks to: Amber L.


-Deanne-

I sit on the couch, working on my cross word puzzle when the phone rings.
Sighing I put my pen down and stand up, and make my way to the phone.

Todd is taking his nap in our bedroom, the time being 2:15 pm.

I pick up the phone and hear a young voice on the other end.

"Hello? Is this the Racey residence?"
"Yes it is," I reply.
There's a long pause, and I wonder if she's still on the line before she then speaks again.
"This is Julia Hays, my Grandfather ii-was Jonathon Marksman."

The name hits me as I instantly wonder why she had referred to him in the past tense, but then it becomes clear to me...

He was an old war buddy to Todd, and a dear friend to us both; he had served with him during WW2.

I slowly sit down, pretty certain what I am going to hear next..
How am I going to tell Todd?' I ask myself as I hear him getting out of bed and coming into the hall.
I look up to him, the phone back in its cradle, the news of a dear friend's passing still echoing in my ears and raw in my heart.
He quickly comes to me, instantly knowing that I have something to tell him.

"Deanne? What is it?" he asks, coming over and sitting beside me. "Has
something happened to one of the kids?"

Having lived with Todd for over sixty years, I have learned to just say it.
"Todd, it's about Jon. He's gone..."

I don't need to continue; he knows that his best friend has passed away.
He bows his head and doesn't look up as I hear a single word.
"When?"

I answer immediately but as softly as I can.
"Last night, in his sleep..."

He nods slightly, my right arm around him, my left hand in his.

I don't know how long we just sat there.
Holding each other.

Another friend was gone...

- - -

-2:38 am-

Jed found Todd in the familiar spot of the West Wing, putting fresh trash bags in the cans and taking out the filled ones.

Walking up, Jed knew that something was up right away.
Todd still acknowledged him but he seemed down, distant, and distracted.
Jed helped him finish, just as he always did when he could.
Afterwards, they walked outside and found a bench.

"Is there something wrong Todd? Is Deanne ok?" he asked.
"Yeah, she's fine..."
Jed waits for him to continue.

- - -

-Jed-

I watch as Todd takes a deep breath and looks up at me with an indescribable loss in his eyes.

"Today I just got word that an old friend passed away."
I just sit there for a moment, trying to find words.
"I'm so sorry, Todd, if there's something I can do..."
"No..." he shakes his head. "It's something that has to happen, sooner or later."

He sits up straighter, as if something had registered within him.
"My only comfort is the fact that my friend lived a complete and happy life, and that I will see him again some day..."

We let silence pass between us for a time as the stars continue to shine above us.

"Who was he?"
"Jonathon Marksman."

I immediately know why Todd is so sad.
Jonathon was the man who had told him to keep going, even if he was going through Hell. He was one of the men a part of his UDT unit, and a man who had fought with him on Omaha Beach as well as countless other operations, so many years ago.

"I'm here if you need me Todd," I say, knowing that it is time for him to go home.
"Thanks Jed."

- - -

-Charlie, next morning-

The president quickly entered and walked up to me, a look on his face that was all too familiar.

"Charlie, I have a job for you." he stated.
"Yes sir."

He then handed me a slip of paper with some names on it.

Jonathon Marksman
Lee Smith
Thomas (Tom) Kay
Roy Jenkins
Jim Freedman

I quickly realized who these men were and are, some of whom were now passed.
These are some of the men from Todd's unit. One of the UDT units who had participated in the invasion of Normandy.

I looked back up to Jed as he continued to give me further instructions, instructions that were very specific and quite honestly, interesting.

- - -

-Roy Jenkins-

This day had started with bad news, and I simply didn't want to be bothered as I sat down to read the paper.

"Granddad, there's someone on the phone who wants to talk to you."
I looked up to Sam, my Granddaughter, her hand over the receiver.

"Oh, can you ask them to call back…I don't want to be bothered today..."

She nodded, understanding, and walked away, but for some reason she wasn't hanging up, but intensely talking to the person on the other side.
She turned back to me, her face a little different than before.

"Granddad, I think you should take this call..."

The look she gave me told me I should listen to her, so I gave in.

"Okay..."

She handed me the phone.

"Hello? This is Roy Jenkins."
"Hello sir. My name is Charlie Young."

His name sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite put my finger on why.
Looking back it was pretty obvious though.

"Sir, I was asked to call you, to ask you if you'd be willing to come up to Washington DC. We'd handle all of the traveling expenses and such; it's nothing formal, just a little get together."
"Who, may I ask, asked you to call?"

He cleared his throat before answering, in such a way that it was as if he knew I wasn't going to take him seriously.

Here we go...

"Josiah Bartlet."
"Excuse me?"

This was sounding very peculiar, this had to be a practical joke, but something in the kid's voice made me have to listen further.

"Josiah Bartlet, sir."
"Kid, if this is-"
"No sir, this isn't a joke. If you really need me to, I can go get him, he's just in the other room and-"
"No, that won't be necessary..." I answer, mildly nervous that he would in fact do that.
But he didn't.

Phew.

I looked over at Sam who is listening closely, now at the table with me. I then covered the phone so Charlie couldn't hear me.

"Sam, what did the caller ID say with this call?"
"US Gov. DC."

Okay at least I know this isn't a joke… But if it is there is going to be hell to pay come election time…I swore.

"Charlie, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to decline. This is a very bad time..."

"Yes sir, I know. I'm sorry."
"You know?"

Okay, this was just getting weird.

"Yes sir, I know that a dear friend of yours has just recently passed away, Jonathon Marksman."

For a few seconds I didn't even breathe, and I wouldn't be surprised if my heart had stopped.

"I'm sorry..." I heard him whisper again, truly sorry.

I gave a slight cough to be able to talk again.

"Charlie..."
He stayed quiet as I paused to think.
"What do you want me to do?" I asked, not quite sure why I was even asking, this was crazy.
"Just say that you will go."

I looked back over at Sam who was still at the table with me.
She nodded, her face pleading with me to say yes.

"Alright... But can Sam come too, she's my granddaughter and-"
"I don't think that will be a problem...the more the merrier."

He then continued talking, telling us that a special cab would be arriving to take us to the airport the next day, and all that we would need to do was to pack a day of clothes.

My granddaughter and I were going to Washington DC, and we didn't even exactly know why. He also informed us that this would not get in the way of the funeral services, and that they would even supply transportation to it if need be for the following day.

The last thing that Charlie had been clear in telling me was that the thing in DC would be very late, and so advised Sam and I to sleep on the way there.

- - -

-Charlie, later that day-

"Sir, they've all been contacted. Deanne is in on it too; I needed her to help me find a few of the others. Everything has been arranged."
"Very good, Charlie."

He sat down behind the desk, and I couldn't help but wonder how exactly he was going to pull this off.

"Sir, if you don't mind me asking, how are you going to get Todd there?"
"Somehow. I'll figure out a way. I'll kidnap him if I have to," he said with a smile.
"Yes sir," I replied, smiling back.

- - -

-Deanne, next day-

Today was the day.
I know Todd will be a little mad about being kept out of the loop, but then he will forget all about it when he sees some of his friends again, and some of the family members of those who have passed.

I was glad Charlie called when he did.
Todd was taking his daily nap when he had called.

Todd is still a little distant. It is something he always does when things like this happen.
It is just how he mourns.
By this time next week he will be better, but he will never forget.
He never forgets.

I know that each one of his friend's passing is very painful for him, and the memory of them is never dimmed, not even by time, including those who had been fallen during war.

Charlie had told me everything, and I was more than willing to give him all the information I had on Todd's old friends.

For tonight we would gather together:

Todd and myself.
Roy Jenkins and his Granddaughter.
Jim Freedman.
The wife of Lee Smith.
The Grandson of Thomas Kay.
And the Son and Granddaughter of Jonathon Marksman.

At 2 am Todd got up as usual, kissed me, and was off to his job; completely clueless that I would soon be getting up as well to be picked up by an unmarked Suburban…

- - -

-Jed, 2:30 am, in Oval-

Ron entered and gave me a nod, letting me know that they had all arrived and Todd was in the West Wing, doing what he usually does.

It was now time for me to retrieve him.

Hopefully I wouldn't give myself away...

I came to the area of the West Wing where Todd was. I suppose he felt me coming because he looked up at me.

He gave me a half felt smile as he then put a fresh bag in the last trash can.

I then stepped beside him as we then went on to walking our normal route to outside, to the very same bench we had sat on the day before.

We were both quiet, I honestly think we both didn't know what to say.

I casually looked over at him, trying to see if I could read his face.

- - -

-Todd-

I am feeling, I suppose I should say, better', but just barely.

I came to the fact of life a long time ago; life begins and ends. However, I know mankind is more than flesh and bone, in spite of being physically mortal.

Mortal, in the sense of flesh, but Immortal in the sense of Spirit and Soul...and in Memory.

I know Jed is waiting for me to speak.
But I don't really know what to say.

I turn my head to find his soft eyes looking at me.

"Todd, could you join me in going some place? I want to take you somewhere."

I wonder if he expected me to refuse?
My goodness, he's the President for cryin' out loud!

"Alright, I suppose Deanna won't mind if I'm a little later than usual."

I meet his gaze for a second and could have sworn I had seen a hint of, mischief? No, that's not quite it.

Anyways, I quickly push that aside, for I am much too distracted to bother focusing on that for any length of time.

We get up, and he leads me to one of the Presidential Limos.
Ron appears and opens the door and I turn a little and give Jed an inquiring look.

"It's not far; I just want to show you something," he says, a little too quickly I might add.

I give a slight shrug and climb in, Jed sliding in beside me.

We drive a little ways and come to a stop...
I know where we are.

We are between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, and not even a hundred yards from us, I quickly realize, is the World War 2 Memorial.

I get out, seeing two other vehicles parked nearby, the clear night sky above us, but the lights from the memorial being even more breathtaking. I notice a few secret service agents nearby, serving as guards for Jed, but they seem to fade in the darkness, just as they seem to disappear into the woodwork, so to speak, when they are in the
White House.

I look to Jed who is utterly silent, but with his eyes, he beckons me forward, and so I go.

The lights shining along the walkways, from the pillars and from the fountains beyond, give an unexplainable feeling. A feeling that goes beyond Patriotism and Honor, a feeling deeper than the ocean.

I look at one of the flag poles as we pass it, the words:
'AMERICANS CAME TO LIBERATE, NOT TO CONQUER, TO RESTORE FREEDOM AND END TYRANNY' encircles its base..
The atmosphere is nearly overwhelming as we approach the main area, the walkway now behind us.

I come to a sudden stop, Jed backing away to the side, giving me the space he somehow knows I want, as well as the full view of the Memorial.

I feel suddenly extremely small, but not exactly insignificant; instead it fills me with awe.

The walkway goes down to the depression of land before me, water, granite, and bronze within; grand pillars and columns, bearing wreaths surrounding the ends; and the wall going all the way around below having deep words sharply engraved within, as well as bearing the scenes of that war in crafted bronze.

The sound of slow shifting water echoes throughout, and the soft yellow light perforates and illuminates nearly everything it touchs.

Straight ahead of me is the Lincoln Memorial. The statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting far in the distance, the lights there giving him a kind of ghost-like quality.

Below that, within the depressed ground, is a wall covered in golden stars, each perfectly reflecting the light around them.

The pool of reflecting water appears as glass, the only thing telling me it is in fact water, are the ripples being caused by soft wind, the fountains not being on.

I take several steps forward and slowly make my way down, the 56 seventeen-foot tall granite pillars appearing even taller as I go down, as do the two 43-foot pavilions representing the Atlantic and the Pacific (one on either side).

The feeling of awe and complete amazement continue to grow within me, but feeling I am not alone, I look to my right to see several figures facing me.

If I hadn't kept my emotions in check, I might have cried, though I probably tear up anyways because I instantly know who these figures are.

I make my way to them, Jed going off to the far side, near the Pavilion marked Atlantic', giving us a moment to ourselves.

My wife comes to my side as I greet them all, all of them giving me a hug.

Roy and his Granddaughter, Sam.
Jim.
Lee's wife, Martha.
Tom's Grandson, Paul.
Jon's Son and Granddaughter: David and Julia.

After a moment, we cast our eyes back to the tranquil pool, Julia coming beside me, the others making their way to other areas in the Memorial. Deanna looks at me, and I suppose Julia had requested to have a moment alone with me before I had arrived as I catch her eyes.

Though, I don't really know how alone we are, because everything is so quiet and the fountains aren't running, our voices will probably echo all around.

Deanna gives me a smile and the squeeze of her hand before going to look at the Atlantic Pavilion.

Julia and I walk to the 4,000 gold stars which cover the back wall.
4,000 stars which reflects in the pool, representing the 400,000 American Soldiers who gave the Ultimate Price.

The words, 'HERE WE MARK THE PRICE OF FREEDOM' being boldly displayed below.

My eyes swept over the words and then the stars before I look to Julia, her eyes also just coming off of the Grand Wall.

"Mr. Racey-"
"Please, call me Todd."

"Ok. Well, I just wanted to thank you personally for everything that you did for my grandfather, during and after the war..."

I was taken aback for a moment before I shook my head.

- - -

-Jed-

I couldn't help but listen, Deanna coming beside me to look at the Atlantic Pavilion as well.
I am sure, however, that she too is listening.

After hearing what Julia had said, I am honestly curious to hear what Todd will say.

"No, it is I who should be thanking Jon. He doesn't owe me anything and neither do you," he says, his voice slightly morphed because of the echo.

"That is not what he told me. He told me you're a true hero, helped him out of a lot of things, bravely led many in battle," she replies.

There is a pause before I hear him speak, and my heart tells me that what he will say next will be something to keep with me forever.

"I was no Hero, I was among them."

I look over to Deanna who is standing a few paces beside me.
A tear slowly runs down her cheek, the light reflecting off of it.

She quickly dabs it away, not knowing I had seen.

What a statement that was.
'I was no Hero, I was among them.'

I gaze around at this amazing structure, History embedded in every piece of it, grounded in its very foundation before I look to the floor in the Atlantic Pavilion, to see these words within a circle:

'Victory on Land
'Victory at Sea
'Victory in the Air
'1941-1945'

Directly above this statement are Four Bronze Eagles with outspread wings holding ribbons which encircle a Great Wreath.

I then peer up back towards Todd to see him place his hand on one of the many stars as he then whispers: "I was among True Heroes..."

His voice carries around us very well, despite of how softly he had spoken, and as the sound of his words disappear and no longer echo, the air suddenly seems to be filled with the presence of all those True Heroes.

- - -

-Roy Jenkins-

I'd be lying if I said that the hairs on my arms did not stand up as Todd's words vanished and went out above us.
But it was a -good- chill, one I will never forget, and I am sure we all felt it, even after the initial shock of it had passed.

I look over to Deanna and the President to find them looking at Todd, still standing in front of the 'Field of Stars'; Julia with him. I look to the others and see that they are going towards them, so Sam and I decide to join them also.

Todd and Julia step back to get the full view of the wall, so we stop beside them to gaze upon it as well.

After a moment, I let my eyes glide up above the wall, as to let myself think.
I am sure my eyes are playing tricks on me...
And for a second I think it's a trick of the light, but for some reason I know that that isn't it.

There are Men. Many Figures huddled together.
Looking down at us. All in uniform and in their Prime.

And then just as quickly as they had come, they disappeared, save one standing in the center.

I stifle a gasp as he seems to look directly at me, and smile.

I think I smile back before I think to myself: 'you know when you're senile when...'
But I know I am seeing him. And I know I should be freaking out, but I'm not.

I continue to stare at this man, staring into his face, his eyes looking at us all.
And then he stands at attention, his eyes coming to rest on each of us before he then Salutes as he slowly disappears...

Jon.

We are all quiet and still for a time.
Myself realizing that for that long moment Sam had stepped beside me and had taken my hand without me knowing.

"Was I the only one who saw that?" Sam whispers to us.

We all look at her and shake our heads 'no'.

- - -

-Todd-

I think some things are better left unsaid and unexplained.
I came to that decision a long time ago.

Deanna is beside me, and all the others are around us, processing, or trying to process, what we had all just seen.

We had only seen the group of soldiers for a split second, and then had only seen the other, Jon, for a few seconds more, but I know the memory of them will last far longer.

- - -

-Ron-

I slowly make my way down to them to find them all standing in front of the Field of Stars.
I decide it is time to go, my agents are sort of getting jumpy, (myself included) and I don't know why and I don't like it.

A minute ago, one of my agents had radioed in and said that he thought he saw something, but then apologized, saying it must have been a trick in the light or something. That in itself is weird, what they say they see, they see.

That was when I decided we should go. Besides, it was passed time to anyways.

"Mr. President?" I ask.
He turns to me.
"Yes?"

"I think it's time to be going sir."

"Oh, alright..." His gaze goes back above the wall for a moment before he turns back to me.

"Um...Ron?"
"Yes, sir?"
"You didn't see anything a little bit ago did you?"
"No, why?"

I didn't see anything.

"Oh, no reason...never mind."

They step out; all of them oddly quiet, but relaxed and calm, an aura of peace about them.

Maybe I should tell Jed about what my agent had radioed in...
Yeah, I will...but I'll do it in the security of the White House, then maybe I can ask him why they were all acting like they had seen a ghost or something...

- - -

-Todd-

I give one last look towards the Memorial before I get into the Suburban, following Deanna. Jed gets in beside us before Ron then shuts the door.

"Thank you Jed, I don't know how you managed it," I say.
"Well, it helps being the most powerful man on Earth."

I smile at that, resting fully into the leather seat.

None of us mention what we had all just seen; knowing that we had all seen it is enough.

The image, forever etched in our minds.
Silhouettes of soldiers, and the clear form of one saluting.
Heroes I had been among, side-by-side, so long ago.
True Heroes whose actions shall forever be engraved.

- - -

The End.

-----------------

I believe the main purpose and reasons why I wrote this story are obvious; however, I shall make it clear nonetheless.

Those who have served in WW2 and other conflicts will not be around forever.
They will pass on and so will the chance to hear their stories.
I ask all those who have the opportunity to listen to these brave men and women, to do so. There is no time like the present.

The other reason was to simply thank those again in uniform and those who used to be.
We have all these Freedoms and Liberties still today because of you.
You are True Heroes.