The Dog Tag

Jim now wore the dog tag he had given his mother after returning from his first deployment. He wore the standard metal-beaded chain around his neck, but the tag itself was atypical. Jim had his name on it, but not his social security number, nor blood type, nor religious preference (although he didn’t really have one; he was an agnostic at best). In addition to his first and last name, his rank, platoon and unit were debossed on front, the word “IRAQ” on back. A round piece of thick aluminum metal, it was the size of a half dollar. His platoon sergeant said they’re what the men in World War I used to wear. The sergeant bestowed one tag upon each of his soldiers at the end of their deployment. Jim appreciated the thought, but not the gift so much. It’s something my mother would like. So, he gave it to his mom, who hung it proudly on the rearview mirror of her car. Mom hadn’t accomplished much in life, but she had one son who happened to have joined the military, about which she was proud, very proud.

The tag sat on the car mirror for many years. It annoyed her boyfriend the way it swung when she drove. Mom wasn’t the best driver. She often drove too close to if not on the double yellow median. She also had a seizure disorder. It wasn’t her fault however when the driver of an oncoming vehicle fell asleep at the wheel, colliding head-on with mom at fifty-five miles an hour not long before Christmas one frosty morning. That’s what the police concluded at least. The other driver was returning home from work, while Jim’s mother was driving to her new job.

Jim was away at the time of the accident, but he soon caught a flight back home. His mother was laid out in the hospital for weeks before she finally succumbed to her injuries. Jim would help his mom’s boyfriend clean out the wreck of a car she had driven. That’s when he found the dog tag and cried.