On Memorial Day, citizens and institutions, both private and public take time to recognize our fallen heroes. They remember the sacrifices of our soldiers on battlefields known and unknown, missing, dead, and alive. But one set of soldiers always seems to be forgotten year in and year out. Yes, those green men of heroics whose images captivate young boys. The machine gunner, the grenadier, the infantry man, the lookout, the minesweeper, and the guy who looks like he's waving traffic through. You've seen them in Walmart, your local dollar store, and they were even animated for kids' films like Toy Story.
Yes, the Plastic Green Army Brigades (which now include tan, grey, and black plastic figures for different environments, or just to have opposing forces) who have valiantly and selflessly thrown themselves into combat on their leaders' whim, without complaint.
I am reminded of a largely unknown combat zone that took on epic proportions in a battlefield only known to few as "The Dirthill on the Northside". Troops had moved in and taken over a plot of mountainous terrain lovingly referred to as The Pile. With ingenuity and lots of sweat equity, they had overcome the harsh elements of nature and created a few bridges of carefully crafted flat toothpicks, highly developed trenches along ridgelines, a road system, an airfield, and barracks facilities. They had carved out their own little piece of military heaven. But their joy in their creation would soon change to the hell that is war.
Soon a large force was seen camped out a short distance away in the valley below, using vast foliage growth as cover. It started one day with guerilla missions overnight that resulted in carefully placed minefields of small explosives. Coordinated very well, the mountain forces suffered heavy losses, at and inside the perimeter.
Clearly the generals of the Mountain forces could not let this transgression go unanswered. A few reconnaisance runs by older green plastic planes were made to determine the size and strength of the valley forces, followed closely by a bombing run by the newer, state of the art die-cast metal fighter-bombers (purchased at the local hardware store for $7.49 plus tax). Tanks forayed down the main road into the valley below. Troops on both sides prepared for all out war. War would drag on for years, with constant influx of troops on both sides, bolstering their respective numbers. Heavy artillery and air forces began to grow slowly creating more death and destruction as the days, weeks, months and years dragged on. Massive warfare had taken its toll on the Pile, and erosion had been sped up by years, as the rock and silt slowly expanded out into the valley below like a glacier cutting its own path. And then something new happened. A third party, with alien-like technology began to take advantage of the warring parties and systematically began eradicating them.
In the rainy months, attacks would come twice a week, with once a week attacks during the dryer months. Wintertime often brought peace between the two forces of Green Army men, along with the subsding of attacks from the third party. But outside of winter, honorable and well-fought wartime deaths were replaced by screams of agony from multiple men facing decapitation from the third party, leading to slow painful deaths, men being buried alive by the third party's awesome military machine of whirling death.
After many sacrificed their lives to each other as well as the new enemy, the mountain and valley forces joined together to combat this new and formidable foe. And intel was quickly gathered, the Branch Duanians, led by the Evil Duane himself, had unleashed the almost indestructible machine of war known as The Lawnmower. Literally hundreds of plastic green army men gave their lives trying to defeat this evil tyrant and his larger than life Lawnmower. But eventually, these heroes of the plastic army life went down in defeat. No surrender and no retreat as their motto, they fought it out to the death. So as Memorial Day gives way to summertime, I salute these green plastic army men and their valiant efforts to maintain their lifestyle where they were free to blow up, shoot and kill each other like any civilized plastic green army would have done. And secretly, we work toward defeating the Evil Duane and his insidious lawnmower. The Plastic Green Army men will have their revenge again someday.