He was tall and lanky. Probably about 16 years old. I imagined him to have twinkling blue eyes to compliment his short cropped red hair, and freckles evident even from afar.
Judging from the fit of his clothes, Larry had had a recent growth spurt. His wrists dangled from the end of his sleeve and his pants barely covered the tops of his socks. But he didn't care. He always had a friendly smile and waved to me as he passed by our house on his way to school. I looked forward to seeing him each day.
Time went on and the country was bleak in the middle of World War II.
My grandfather went to his patriotic work at the Torpedo Plant in Alexandria, Virginia, while my father helped keep the railroads running. My grandmother harvested the crops from our victory garden, canned them and carefully managed our food rations. My mother maintained the telephone switchboard at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, so that the boys could phone home.
As for me, I waited for Larry.
One day, my grandmother and I were walking passed Larry's house. There was a banner with a star hanging on the door. I asked what it meant. Grandma kind of hung her head and said: “Larry won't be passing by our house anymore.”
It took years before I realized the magnitude of those words.
My heart goes out to all the Larrys and their parents in this country who have and will make sacrifices to keep this country free. Have a safe Memorial Day.
The writer worked as an industrial specialist (mobilization preparedness) in the Pentagon for 20 years. She now lives in Myrtle Beach.