Red Hook Memorial Parade   4 comments

Today I am posting something a bit different. This part of the book I am writing about two babies born on the same day at the same hospital and how their lives keep intersecting. The book is mostly about the one from The Point. At this point in the story he is almost five. It is written as he sees things in 1955. For those who remember those parades  I hope I capture the way it was. I would be happy to take any suggestions.


59.doughboy-285x380Gerry was excited he would be going to the Memorial Day Parade with his Poppa. They would be going to the VFW Post and the church and Coffey Park with the big soldier statue. The VFW Post would march to the statue of the soldier in the park. When they got there they would all shoot guns. Gerry didn’t quite remember last year’s parade but he knew that he had liked it. All the kids were talking about trying to get the back of one of the bullets that come out of the guns. Gerry didn’t even know what they were but he wanted one.

When they got to the park a lot of men got up and talked about the war. He didn’t really understand what war was about but it sounded like fun. They were talking about big ships and airplanes and tanks. He hoped that he could go to a war some day. He didn’t want the people who ran them to run out of wars before he was old enough.

He had stopped hearing the speakers and was day dreaming about flying a big plane and knocking down the bad planes when he saw the guys with the guns get ready. They lifted those guns and BANG, BANG, BANG. They all shot three times. Gerry saw where one of the bullets landed in the grass and ran to it before anyone else saw it. When picked up the bullet it burned his hand, no one told him that they were hot and burned. But he had it and he wasn’t going to lose it for a little burn. Gerry ran back to his Poppa. He was proud that he got one of the bullets and a lot of bigger kids didn’t get any.

“Poppa, Poppa look I got a bullet. Maybe someday I can go to a war. Will you go with me?”

Poppa sat on a bench and said, “Gerry, I hope you never have to go to war. I hope there is never another war.”

Gerry thought; why doesn’t Poppa want me to have a war. All the men had a war. I want to have one too.

He forgot about being angry with his Poppa for not wanting him to play war when he heard music. Soon everyone was singing. Gerry liked singing. They sang the Anthem and God Bless America and a lot of other songs. Gerry didn’t know all the words but he knew some and when it was time to sing them he sang loud. When he didn’t know the words he just moved his mouth and pretended to sing. They sang a song about some guy named Johnny marching home. It was a good song Gerry was having fun when he heard his Poppa make a noise. He looked up and Poppa was crying. Poppa didn’t cry he was old, older even then Momma and Daddy.

He tugged on Poppa’s coat till Poppa looked down, “Poppa why are you crying?”

Poppa said, “My Johnny didn’t march home.”

Gerry didn’t know what he meant but he knew war made Poppa cry. If war could make Poppa cry then it was bad. He loved his Poppa and anything that made his Poppa cry was the baddest. He decided when he grew up and became a cop he would arrest anyone who made a war.

It would be years before he understood what war was and why Poppa cried. His Uncle, his Momma’s brother, Nanny and Poppa’s son Sgt. John Peterson was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. He would die on Christmas Day, Nanny’s birthday.

He didn’t understand all that in 1955 but that moment was burned into his four year old mind. For the rest of his life those five words of his Poppa. “My Johnny didn’t march home” were the saddest words he ever heard.


Posted February 26, 2015 by kevingcox in Random Thoughts

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4 responses to “Red Hook Memorial Parade

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  1. Pingback: Red Hook Memorial Parade | kevingcox

  2. Just a little help if you want it or I read it wrong. Proof reading?

    Third paragraph, sixth line beginning with When (He is omitted) picked… When (he) picked up the bullet it burned his hand, no one told him that they were hot and burned.

    Seventh paragraph – They sang the Anthem and God Bless America and a lot of other song. I think song needs an “s”.

    Just my take and if I am wrong, forget I even mentioned it.


    • Thanks John, I wrote it to be in the mind of the almost five year old boy. There were a few lines That I seemed too adult. I deleted the parts I thought were wrong and rewrote them. I must have back spaced too much without realizing it. Thanks again

  3. My mother (Lynn Nelson Morris ) talks about her poppa often , still talks about her uncle Johnny and what a tremendous loss to our family he was …..

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