Sgt. Trent had the same kind of memories as Captain Ludlow, so when he heard the yelling of the children in the Ludlow house, he came out onto his front porch with his gun in hand, but then heard Andrew above the din:
“Milton got the $50 for the rent, y'all – he got it!”
Sgt. Trent went and put his gun away, and then said to his son Milton, “Come out on the porch, son!”
So Milton came out on the porch just in time to see Eleanor waving her big sign – “Congratulations, Milton!” – Amanda and Edwina throwing their homemade confetti up in the air, and Andrew solemnly lining up George, Grayson, and Robert to salute him before all of them started with “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Milton didn't recognize the tune or that they were all in their own keys and changing whenever their little voices ran out of room up on top … he just stood dazzled.
“Uh oh,” Vanna said to Melvin. “I knew it couldn't last. Here comes Captain Ludlow – no way is he is going to have all that noise.”
Captain Ludlow solemnly came out onto the porch, a serious look on his face, and his grandchildren immediately got quiet. He let the moment linger, but they could see his slight smile.
“Line up,” he ordered, and all of them did. “Synchronized saluting, advanced: 1 … 2 … 3.”
And the Ludlow synchronized salute got on point, just like that, with little Robert not even falling over that time.
“Let's all read the sign, as loud as we can: 1 … 2 … 3.”
“Now then – 'Stars and Stripes Forever, in tune: 1 … 2 … 3!”
And all at once, Captain Ludlow's big, tuneful bass rang out – that big bass voice had other uses beside yelling. Even he was surprised to remember, and smiled like the whole winter sun!
That took his grandchildren to a whole higher level of joy, and Mrs. Ludlow came out to add her voice, and there they were, in seemingly endless repetitions of “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Sgt. Trent put his hands on his sons' shoulders, one per shoulder.
“The Scripture says that when a man's ways please the Lord, the Lord will make his enemies to be at peace with him. We not only have peace with Captain Ludlow now, but look at him and his whole family. He might have been the kind of man who would have enjoyed seeing y'all's confidence cut in favor of his children, but look at him and look at them, Milton and Melvin. It won't always come out like this as Black men in the world, achieving. A lot of people see themselves as insecure competitors. But sometimes, the Lord will do it for us, so just enjoy, and salute back!”