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Al loved to tell the story of coming home from the war. He fought in the Philippines and came home at dawn on April 21, 1946, stepping off a train in Elma, Iowa, that he had boarded the day before at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Nobody knew that he was on his way.
Al walked from the depot to the home of his older brother Pat, dropped his bags on the kitchen floor (no locked doors in Elma in those days), and said, "Stand up and shake hands with a man." Evidently that's what Pat did. Then the brothers drove to the family farm near Lourdes, a few miles away. Their parents were at church, so Al and Pat went to church too. It was Easter Sunday. Al had turned 20 just two months earlier.
Some 60 years later, when Tom and I visited him in Reno, Al smiled when looked back at Easter 1946. He remembered his welcome after Mass, with everybody congratulating him and shaking his hand. "It was the greatest day of my life," he said. It must have been some celebration for his family to see their son and brother return from the War at the same time they celebrated Christ's resurrection from the dead.
August 8, 2022