... a bittersweet reminder of war's cost
When Virginia Hanley passed away on November 7, 2007, at age 80, the obituary mentioned that she was the sister of the late Neil and James Hanley. In 1999, as a SilverStringer writing for the Melrose Mirror, (an online publication), she wrote a gripping article entitled "The War Department regrets..." which was later published in the Melrose Free Press, as "War's end brought spontaneous celebration to Main Street" (Free Press, August 4, 2005).
Hanley told how Neil had been killed in the war and how her surviving brother, Jim, had finally come home to their house at 77 Maple St. (it is still there; the last on the street from that era). Her description of Jim's arrival was something I have never forgotten. She retold it to me in 2005 when I was doing a column on the end of WWII...
"When Jim finally came home in May 1946, he was warmly greeted by my mother and me and our dog, Gyp. An hour later, we realized that Gyp had gone outside. He was sitting on the porch looking down the street. He was smart enough to realize that two boys had gone away so two should be coming home. It took us about a week to convince him that Neil was gone for good."
Virginia left us with a something to remember every Veterans Day.
This article was reprinted with permission from the November 21, 2007 issue of the Melrose Free Press. Click here for the original article in the Melrose Mirror.
December 7, 2007