Here’s Your Flag

An Army officer shows up at Mrs. Cavanaugh’s front door with a flag to replace her dead son—who isn’t dead yet, because he only enlisted yesterday. She’s pretty upset, until she learns that Eddie’s going to die a hero, and that makes it all better.

The Army has developed a new algorithm which, tied in to strategic operations, can tell ahead of time who will die for their country. When Mrs. Cavanaugh learns that her son Eddie, who just enlisted yesterday, will be one of those soldiers, she protests that it’s unfair. Eddie wouldn’t have signed up if he knew he might get killed. The officer explains that “it’s in the fine print, page 12, at the bottom.” She protests that “no one ever reads the fine print!” But when she finds out Eddie will die a hero, she slowly gets used to the idea of Eddie’s death.