The Real Ones Never Came Home

My small tribute to all of those living and passed away who have ever served this country, I love you Daddy.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs stood at attention as he watched the flag being raised over Arlington National Cemetery. He saluted as the wreath was placed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. He waited until the crowds began to dissipate before he tried to visit some of his buddies that were resting in this sacred ground.

"Boss, I'm going to wait by the car so no one tries to tow it this year," Tony offered knowing that Gibbs would not want to show any emotions around anyone else. With just a nod the former Marine Gunnery Sergeant walked off toward the white rows of stone.

Gibbs wandered along the names of those who had made the ultimate sacrifice to keep their country free. He watched mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and most painfully young children as they placed flowers and mementos at the headstones of those they loved. Widows and widowers sat on benches and watched over their loved ones as they lay in peace. When he passed names he recognized he would straighten the flowers and flags placed beside the familiar names. After spending long moments over buddies, remembering their dying words or pleas, Jethro realized the sun was beginning to set. He needed to call his father and thank him for his service during World War II.

As he walked along the path to find his team and his car, he walked by a young man in a very new uniform.

"Did you know anyone buried out there?" the young man asked as Gibbs stopped to look out one more time.

"Yeh," Gibbs swallowed a knot forming in his throat, "I did."

"Those sure are a lot of medals," the young soldier said looking towards Gibbs chest.

"They aren't that important."

"But aren't you a hero?" the cadet asked with wide eyes having noticed the Purple Heart on the Marine's dress uniform.

"No son," Gibbs said as he put a hand on the younger man's shoulder, "The real heroes never made it home alive. They are lying out there. They never came home."