Jann Scotts Journal: Sally McNulty’s father died in the war: she always looked sad
In the small New England town of 4,000 where I grew up, there were a lot of war vets. My dad was a wounded war vet from WWII. The north town cemetery has graves from the American Revolution on up. In front of the library on main street is a memorial to the men and women who served in WWII. There are over 500 names on it. 32 have white crosses next to them.
Over 10& of our towns population served. Every man of fighting age served and many of the women. In the early 50′s the war was
still fresh in peoples minds and there were some big parades on Memorial Day. My dad marched in some but, then after a while mostly everybody wanted to forget the war. But everybody came out for the parade and they all gathered around the memorial for taps when the names of the war dead were read out loud. Everybody cried too. I didn’t understand. I was only 5 or 6 at the time.
But I do remember little Sally McNulty crying. She was two years older than me and seemed to be the only little kid crying. My dad would pick her up and tell her it would be OK and that a lot of people in our town loved her. Then he would buy her an Ice Cream cone and it would be over.
Later when I was in high school Sally had come to work for my families business and we sort of hit off a friendship. that consisted of me helping her baby sit, drinking a six pack of beer and making out.
But Sally had never gotten over her fathers death. He was killed at Anzio when she was just two years old, but she remembered him. Her mom who looked just like Sally drank a bit to cover her pain. She never remarried. Sally said she felt so out of place because she didn’t have a father and she hated to explain “that no her parents weren’t divorced, that they loved each other very much and that my father was killed in the war”. Gulp. I didn’t know a lot of kids who lost someone in the war. But it wasn’t a joking matter. It was sobering.
A picture of Sally’s father sat on a table in the living room of her house in 1965. He was a smiling handsome guy of about 22. And he was dead. ” It has really affected my mom and I she said. We have been pretty unhappy for the last 20 years.
Now at 66 I have a lot of stories like this. My friend Anne lost her brother in Vietnam while she was a CU Junior. Anne was an intern at the newspaper I worked at. To this day she hosts a memorial for her brother at her Boulder home. She hasn’t forgotten.
We should all remember the families of those who have fallen on this memorial day.
from a city with many war dead on both sides of the Indian Wars, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the middle East