Skip to comments.I will never forget. (A Memorial Day Story.)
Posted on 07/09/2003 12:46:08 PM PDT by J.King.
I will never forget. (A Memorial Day Story.) By: J.King. Edited by: S.King. & Jeremy Rousse. 04/25/2003
I grew up on the city streets of German Town in Quincy, Mass - G-town for short. We would spend our time as neighborhood kids doing what kids did back then. Playing street ball, collecting baseball cards, spending our afternoons after school doing our odd jobs (mine being the local newspaper boy with well over one hundred deliveries a day). I remember the smells of the city air and the distinct taste of soap that the local Procter and Gamble plant would put into the air every afternoon at around 3:00 or 4:00 P.M. I remember all of the different neighbors and streets, and of course the local store, 'Lester's Variety' where my local group of friends and I would stock up on soda and candy before making the rounds of our neighborhood. I also distinctively remember a pair of two people that I would see almost daily on my newspaper runs in the early years of the eighty's. I will always remember these two people for the rest of my days. They were always polite to me as a child, which in this part of town sometimes was unheard of. The area was considered "the projects" and many people were down and out and did without. People were not usually friendly and a many a time, we kids had situations were we either fought or ran for our lives. Yet, these two people that walked to the store and home again would always show a smile or a friendly gesture. We looked at these two individuals as not to be feared or to be intimidated by, but rather two people from whom we could always expect a smile or a wave-even across the busy street that may have separated us. These two people were a mother and her son, Mr. Edward J. Gargano and "Mrs. Gargano", as I had known his mom.
I loved seeing them both and had a respect for this young man as I watched him walk by his mom's side almost every day, back and forth to the store. I remember seeing him by her side at Sunday Mass and thinking what a great relationship they both must have. I'm not saying that it was picture-perfect; what relationship doesn't have its bumps? I'm just saying that it was a breath of fresh air to a child of my age back then to see some sort of peace within something around me. The day came that this young man joined the Marine Corps. At this point we as a nation were dealing with the turmoil within Lebanon and the early stages of terrorism against America. I can't say much other than when he went off, the church would pray for him on Sundays. I remember his mother would always say a prayer in his name for protection over him (during the part of Mass when the congregation is allowed to pray out loud). I would always second it inside my young heart.
Then the day came. I heard it at school first. Edward John Gargano had been killed while serving in Beirut, Lebanon. No one new how yet, the news was just that he had been shot. The school was solemn and I remember going home to find my mother very upset as was the rest of the family. That day seemed exceptionally darker than most wintry days in New England. I can remember looking out the window down the street to the local store and feeling a sadness grip my heart knowing that Mrs. Gargano would no longer have her son by her side. To this day, it eats me up inside and brings a tear to my eye.
Although life, as solemn as it was, continued as it always does within the neighborhood, I will never forget the cloudy day that Mrs. Gargano had made that trek to the store alone. She walked along the sea wall toward Lester's corner store. As I walked toward her on my route, she seemed to be dressed in black. I remember as I walked toward her, she no longer had that light in her eyes-the brightness to her face- and even as a kid back then, I knew why it had gone and it saddened me! "Some lowlife terrorist took your son, ma'am. Some worthless, no-honor-having pig took his honorable life." Those are the words I would have said if she had stopped to talk. But when she did stop she put her hand on my head, and as I looked up at just her she said, "You're a good lad." And with a small smile she continued on. I was speechless, for I had seen the pain of a mother who had lost her son to a violent death. What could I say? I was flushed with emotions a kid can't really explain to others. I was angry with those who took him and saddened for her all at once.
As life went on I always made a point to smile at her and to say hello, and as I grew older I began to realize the true sacrifice her son made for me. I'll never forget the day they unveiled the memorial in front of my grade school at Snug Harbor in G-town. It was the first time I had seen a WWI Marine in uniform along with other veterans in attendance. I remember how proud I was as they hoisted the flag above the memorial. I remember looking at that WW1 veteran and saluting him with my small hand and him smiling back and saluting me in response. Man, and I thought I was something! :) Every day from that point on, when I would walk (and years later, drive) by the Memorial I would always remember to say a small prayer to the Almighty. A prayer for boys like Edward-excuse me; not boys, but men!- who sacrificed those peaceful walks with their loved ones, be it mother, wife, or child, so that we as Americans can be free! So we as children, who may not all grow up with silver spoons, grow up free nonetheless. Mrs. Gargano, you may never feel that happiness again from your son's walk, but know this ma'am: Your son will never be forgotten by me nor by my family. My children will know this story and remember his name, as will my grandchildren and God willing theirs also. Your son's sacrifice will always be honored in my heart and may God know that we free Americans owe our freedom to honorable men like your son. We thank him for his ultimate sacrifice!
Liberty or Death. J.King.
Foot note: The following information can be found at Edward John Gargano was born on 5 May 1962 in Quincy, Mass. While serving with the 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit with Weapons Co. 2/8 "Dragons" attached to Fox Co. in Beirut Lebanon, Ed was struck down in an ambush as he stepped from a helicopter near the US Embassy in Beirut. Sgt Gargano was the 258th Marine to die as part of the Multi- National Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon, and the first to die in the New Year. 8 Jan 1984--
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Now I am a veteran who's been proud to serve his country, but I haven't always taken pride in its people if you know what I mean. Please feel free to share this poem with your priest, tell him to substitute the word "GI" for "Tommy" and he'll get the gist of it.
It puts a face on one of those young men in that theater of conflict far away and some time ago.
They were real flesh and blood with families, friends and communities that knew them and their sacrifice.
Now we know too.
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