Americans in Afghanistan

secret agent info:



Tom Paine's Ghost

Visits Duty

~ Clyde Collins ~

     Pvt. 2 Donald Duty, inspiration specialist, Poetics Lab, was about to compose a patriotic piece to commemorate July 4, 1776, the birthday of the United States of America.

     He carefully placed a library book about the American Revolution inside the Historical Incidentals Incubator, adjusted the temperature, humidity and oxygen, sat back to see what the sophisticated piece of equipment could come up with.

     The incubator blew up.  Out of it stalked the ghost of Tom Paine, ranting and raving and exuding acrid smoke.  Not exactly what Duty expected.

     Tom Paine (1737-1809) was the author of "Common Sense" and the "American Crisis Papers," two poignant pieces of literature that played no small role in convincing many a first American patriot to pick up his weapon and fight for freedom.  Now the author's ghost was pacing about the lab and his tongue was on fire.

     "America's setting out in life, like the rising of a fair morning, was unclouded and promising," quoth the ghost glaring at Duty.  "Her cause was good.  Her principles just and liberal.  It is not every country (perhaps there is not another in the world) that can boast so fair an origin."

     Duty, awe struck, noticed that the feet of the ghost trudging around in a bluster were not touching the floor.

     "Rome, once the proud mistress of the universe, was originally a band of ruffians," continued the spirit of Paine.  "Plunder and rapine made her rich, and her oppression of millions made her great.  But America, ah America, need never be ashamed to tell of her own birth."

     A semi-transparent finger pointed at Duty.  "Let but a nation conceive rightly of its character, and it will be chastely just in protecting it.  None ever began with a fairer character than America, and none but Americans can be under a greater obligation to preserve it."

     "But, but," said Duty.

     "But nothing!" fumed the ghost of Tom Paine.  "You have a challenge today, just as we, the first American patriots, had a challenge yesterday.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.  Yet we have this consolation with us that, the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly."

     The smokey phantom changed his tune and winked.  "Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."

     Dazzled, Duty automatically nodded.

     Finished, Paine's ghost stalked through the wall, circled over TAMC and rode away on a cloud.

     The young inspiration specialist picked up his pen, aimed it at a piece of paper.  He was writing furiously when his NCOIC walked into the lab, sniffed the air and scowled, "What happened to the historical incidentals incubator, private?"


Destiny's Child

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