Audrey was relaxing when her dog, Milo, discovered something in the sand at the beach. It was a dog tag necklace that belonged to Tom Hammer. As a history teacher, she became interested and started searching for him. But she found something surprising instead.
"Milo, come here, boy!" Audrey called to her dog, who was running around the beach. It was a beautiful sunny day, and she couldn't imagine spending it anywhere else. That's why she took the job at the Florida Gulf Coast University. It was near the ocean, and students and faculty were at the beach all the time.
She loved bringing her dog because he was well-behaved most of the time, although he sometimes liked to dig in the sand and make a huge mess. That's what he was doing now, and Audrey tried to call him. "Come on," she yelled at him again and whistled to get his attention.
Milo was digging in the sand, and Audrey didn't want him to eat anything strange. | Source: Pexels
Usually, he would come to her quickly whenever she called, but something was distracting him. "Oh, great. He had something in his mouth," she muttered, standing up from her beach chair and rushing before he swallowed anything strange.
"Are you Mr. Hammer's relative?" she wondered, and he nodded.
Luckily, Milo didn't want to eat what he had discovered. She didn't get far before he started running toward her, and the dog placed the item in her hand. It was an army dog tag. It was strange to find something like that on the beach, and this one looked a bit rusty.
It belonged to Tom Hammer and featured his date of birth, blood type, and contact number. Audrey thought about calling the number, but Mr. Hammer might be long gone based on his birthdate. He most likely fought in World War II, her specialty as a professor.
Audrey took the tag home and started searching for Tom Hammer. | Source: Pexels
She got extremely curious and decided to take it home with her. As expected, the phone number was disconnected, but she searched for Mr. Hammer. There were thousands of men with the same name online, and she couldn't tell who to contact. It seemed like a dead end.
But she had access to an even better database at the university library, so she started looking there. And after much searching through several databases, she discovered that Mr. Hammer had died during his deployment in the war, and she felt sad for him.
"It's crazy how many lives were lost. That's why we should never forget our history," she told herself, holding the tag more tightly in her hand. "Knowing our history is the only way we will not repeat it, and we have to honor all the sacrifices made that day."
Audrey's father and grandfather were veterans, but they both survived their deployments and lived happy lives. Not everyone had that privilege.
Audrey went to his grave and left the necklace there. | Source: Pexels
Surprisingly, Tom Hammer had been a resident of Fort Myers, just like she was, and he had been buried at the Fort Myers cemetery. Since she couldn't find anything about his next of kin, she visited his grave to leave the necklace there.
"Thank you for your service, Mr. Hammer," she told his tombstone and placed the necklace on top. She wished she knew his military rank to refer to him appropriately, but Mr. would have to do.
For some reason, she couldn't keep Mr. Hammer out of her mind, and she started visiting his grave once a week, and it seemed so peaceful. But one day, the army tag was gone, and she was insanely mad about it.
A man was standing over Mr. Hammer's grave holding the tag. | Source: Pexels
She wanted to complain, but this was a public area. Anyone could come in. Anyone could've taken it. But a thought crossed her mind. What if a relative had visited and taken the tag? She truly hoped that that's what had happened and not an ordinary robbery.
The next time she visited Mr. Hammer, a man was standing over his tombstone, and Audrey saw the army tag around his neck. She approached slowly, not wanting to disturb that person.
"Hello?" she said gently.
The man turned to her, and he couldn't be older than her. He looked at her with a curious expression, raising his eyebrows.
"Are you Mr. Hammer's relative?" she wondered, and he nodded. "Oh, so you took his army tag?"
Audrey explained how she found the tag and why she brought it. | Source: Pexels
"Oh, yes. It appeared here one day. I come to visit Grandpa every once in a while," he stated, looking at the tombstone. But he caught himself and looked back at her. "Wait a minute. Why do you ask?"
"Actually, I found the necklace at the beach. Well, it was my dog who found it. It was buried in the sand. I brought it here to your grandfather. I'm a history teacher at the university, and World War II is my specialty," Audrey explained, shrugging her shoulders.
"Oh, I see. Thank you so much for bringing it here. I grew up hearing all about my grandfather and his great sacrifice from my grandmother. My dad was a baby during the war, but he also enlisted later in life, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps, but I have a bad knee, and they wouldn’t let me into the army. I had to settle with visiting him and honoring his memory," the man added. "I'm Matthew, by the way."
He asked her to get coffee so they could continue talking. | Source: Pexels
"It's nice to meet you. I'm Aubrey. My family also has a military history, and that's why the subject has always been important to me," she said, smiling slightly.
Matthew hummed, and they stared at the grave in silence. Then he asked her to get coffee… and the rest was history.
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