My Dad and I used to talk about a lot of things. The Red Sox, the Patriots, how he never had a good steak in a restaurant. (As a grocer/butcher, he was a very tough audience, I’ll tell you.)
Every so often, we’d talk about war.
Dad was an Army vet, a staff sergeant who served in Germany and France during World War II. He was drafted just before he planned to open his lifelong dream, a neighborhood grocery in Middleboro.
While Dad faithfully met his military obligation, he was by no means gung ho about war. I remember asking him if he ever had to fire his gun at the enemy.
The answer was yes and he said he fired it more than once. But he also said he didn’t know if he actually ever hit anybody — and that was fine with him.
Sometimes, when they’d get together, my Dad and Hank’s Mom Anne would get to talking about war, too.
Like Dad, her focus was WWII. And the crushing loss her family suffered.
Her big brother, Edward Allison Jones, was the pride of Whiteford, a small town in Harford County, Maryland. Smart, handsome and a terrific singer, he was a 1st lieutenant in the Marines where his rural roots earned him the nickname “Hillbilly.”
I can’t count the times my mother-in-law (she’s now 96) has said “Everyone loved Ed”— and that apparently extended to the Marines who served with him. And that’s not just family lore. Lt. Edward A. Jones is immortalized in several books and was portrayed by an actor named Leon Ford in the miniseries “Pacific,” a companion piece to the acclaimed “Band of Brothers.”
One of the episodes dealt with the Battle of Peleliu, an island in the South Pacific. That’s where Lt. Ed Jones fought. And that’s where Lt. Ed Jones died in combat on Oct. 10, 1944. He was 27.
Hank’s middle name is Edward in his honor and his memory.
While my father, thankfully, survived the war and came home to realize his dream — the Twin Elms Market was a Middleboro fixture for 42 years — Edward Allison Jones wasn’t so lucky.
To this day, more than seven decades after his death, Hank’s Mom still mourns the loss of her beloved brother. And she — and we — can’t help but wonder what Ed would have become if his life hadn’t ended at Peleliu.
His future held endless promise but like so many others in so many wars, he never got the chance to live it. Like so many others in so many wars, he never got the chance to Come Home.
On this Memorial Day Weekend, I’m thinking about Lt. Edward A. Jones and all who made the ultimate sacrifice.
I’m thinking about them with gratitude for their service. But, even more so, I'm thinking about them with sadness that we didn’t have them longer.
Contact Susan Pawlak-Seaman at firstname.lastname@example.org