Benton turned the helmet over in his hands. He frowned across the yard at the host of the Memorial weekend garage sale and turned back to the piece of history in his hands. Five dollars? Do they have any idea what this is?
He looked around for his fifteen-year-old grandson. “Randy, come over here and look what I found.”
Randy looked up from the stack of DVDs he was sorting through and trotted over to his grandfather’s side. “What’cha got, Pops?”
Benton handed the scuffed and dented piece of metal to the youngster. “That’s a World War I helmet.”
“Seriously.” Randy studied it from several angles. “How can you tell?”
“My grandfather had one just like it. He used to let me wear it sometimes.” Benton retrieved the headgear and hefted it in his hands. “The weight's a dead giveaway. Two pounds or my name isn't Benton Wayne Stillman.” He turned it over and pointed to the seam between bowl and rim. “You see this welded seam? It’s even, not lapped. British helmets were lapped at the seam and lighter in weight.”
Randy took the helmet back into his own hands and performed his own examination. He placed it on his own head, where the thing wobbled around like the bowl it was. “This isn’t much protection.”
“It was state of the art back then. Designed to stop a pistol bullet fired from as close as ten feet.”
His grandson grinned. “They had guns back then?”
Benton shook his head at the teasing. “Yes, fresh mouth, they had guns. They had tanks, submarines, and bombs, but they still did a lot of fighting from horseback as well.”
“Why?” Randy tossed the helmet back to Benton. “If someone is shooting at me, I want to be in a tank.”
“They had tanks, but very few roads to drive them on. World War I soldiers didn’t just battle each other, they battled disease, primitive conditions, and a lack of communication you’ll never appreciate.” He tucked the helmet under his arm and dug his wallet out of his pocket.
Randy put his hands on his hips. “I’m not supposed to let you bring home any junk. Grandma will hurt me if you buy that.”
Benton pulled a five from the folds of his wallet. “Oh, I don’t think so. Callie’s grandpa died fightin’ in that war. He’s part of the reason we have the freedom now, to stand here and talk about it.” He slung his arm around Randy’s shoulder. “Let’s get this bought and get home. The Memorial Day parade starts in a couple of hours. I want a good seat.”
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY