Let Freedom Ring is a story about four Cheyenne Indian braves who grew up and became warriors for their tribe. They joined the Army just prior to the Desert Storm War in Iraq. A story about love, marriage, and war.
Ernie Johnson's Storefront
On the last day of school, for the first grade class at Timber County Elementary School, Interim teacher, Wendy Laslow, a five-foot-six slender teacher with long blonde hair, asked her student’s one final question. “What would you like to be when you grow up?”
Johnny Blackwater, a seven-year old Cheyenne Indian boy, sat in the last seat on the right, in the front row of seats, and waited for his turn to speak.
“You’re the last one, Johnny, so what do you want to be?” The teacher asked, as she sat on the corner of her desk.
Johnny stood up beside his desk with pride, and replied, “Some of my friends want to be policemen, firemen, doctors, and nurses, and those are people we need too. My dad sits in a wheelchair, because he fought, in Vietnam, for the freedom we have, and even though I can’t give him his leg back, or help him ever walk again, I want to be a soldier and fight for the same freedom that he fought for. Let freedom ring.”
The next morning the sun broke the horizon at around five o'clock in the morning. Billy and Ken were the first two to awaken and rise. As suggested the night before, the two worked together to remove the deer from the branches and carry the drying carcasses into the depths of the cave, one at a time. They then started to tie their knives back onto the poles for spears.
"Do you think we should wake them up?" Billy asked as he finished his spear.
"Wait until I’m done. That way the three of us can head down to the creek together. We may want to take Sam's canteen with us. That way we can all have full canteens to start the day," Ken replied
"Morning, guys," Johnny said as he neared his friends.
"Did you sleep well, Johnny?" Ken asked.
"I laid my head down and I went right out. I slept great! Sam should be right out. I just woke him up," Johnny replied
"Do you want to use his spear to catch some fish and let him rest up for the hunt today?" Billy asked.
"If he doesn't mind me using his spear, that's a good idea."
"What's a good idea, gang?" Sam asked as he left the darkened confines of the bear cave and into the bright light of the morning sun.
"If you'd like, Sam, I can use your spear to catch some breakfast and you can rest up here while you are getting a fire going. This is going to be a rough day on you until you get your kill."
"Give me your canteen, Sam, and I'll fill it up while we’re at the creek," Billy suggested.
"There you go, and thanks. You guys are my best friends."
Moments later Johnny, Billy, and Ken left the camp and headed to the creek. Sam, in the meantime, made the campfire and waited for his friends to return with their breakfast. While he sat there he knew he was under pressure to get the last deer, but he felt good and rested, and that he was with true friends who could help him spot the animal.
Almost an hour passes when the three braves return to the camp with six trout.
"Let's get these fish cooked, Sam and we'll help you get your deer," Johnny said and handed Sam two of the trout to cook over the fire. Sam took the fish and poked a stick through and then and added the other four as they were handed to him. He placed the makeshift skewer across the two sticks placed in the ground at opposite ends of the fire.
"It looks like a good morning for a deer kill, guys," Sam said while the fish started to cook.
"I saw some fresh deer tracks near the creek, Sam," Johnny informed his friend.
"Then that's where we will start. I don't want to wait all day and have to come home in the dark.”
Fifteen minutes later, the four friends started to eat the fish and they wasted no time in devouring all six. Johnny kept his knife in its sheath while the others chose to carry a spear. It was almost seven o'clock when the four braves left the camp and headed, once again, for the creek to start the hunt.
Johnny showed Sam the fresh deer tracks. "You follow those tracks, Sam, and the three of us will spread out and hopefully surround the deer and send it towards you. From here on out there will be no more talking or we could lose our prey."
Sam and the others agreed. Billy headed across the creek and tried to work his way around the deer from the right. Johnny and Ken went to Sam's left. The bushes became thick and Sam lost the tracks of the deer he was hunting and had to maneuver around the heavy thicket. By the time he reached the other side there were no signs of the deer anywhere. He continued on in the same direction with an arrow at the ready.
He happened upon a small clearing and as he stepped out into it, from the east, a huge bear entered it from the west. This is not what I was supposed to see here, he thought to himself as he dropped the spear by his side, raised the bow and aimed at the bear. The bear saw Sam at the same moment he saw the bear and the bear had no intention on backing down from the person in front of him. He ran on all fours halfway across the clearing and then stopped and stood on his back feet.
Sam took a deep breath and let the arrow fly. He watched as the arrow hit its mark and he pulled his second arrow from its quiver. He got it ready as the bear fell on all fours and continued on towards him. Thirty feet away the bear once again stood on its back legs and let out a deep growl.
By that time, Sam's friends heard the commotion and they converged at the opposite side of the clearing. Johnny raised his hand, as a signal that they could do nothing to help their friend. Johnny knew that to shoot an arrow at the bear, with Sam in a direct path if the arrow didn't hit its mark that he could hit his friend because the bear moved, so it was Sam's move to make.
Sam once again took aim as he eyed the broken arrow that protruded from the bear's chest. He let the second arrow fly at the bear and struck the animal only inches away from the first.
For the second time the bear dropped onto all fours as Sam quickly picked up his spear and heaved the bow to one side. A quick look behind him and Sam spotted a tree less than three feet away. He backed up to the tree quickly, as the bear prepared to make a final lunge. With only seconds to make a decision, Sam planted the end of the pole against the base of the tree and waited for the bear to lunge forward.
As the bear extended its body, to lunge at Sam,