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My Turn: Buried before 22, but remembered

Edward G. Becher died in World War II.

Edward G. Becher died in World War II. Credit: Handout

We moved to Lynbrook in 1944 before my eighth birthday, so I guess I'm a transplant. Our Manhattan apartment was great and near Riverside Park, so I missed those Sundays in the park. We would walk to Grant's Tomb and continue onto "Aunt Linda's" -- a family friend and lacemaker from Italy.

Our move was due to a V-mail my aunt sent to her son Ed, stationed in the South Pacific. In the letter she mentioned friends had moved to Long Island. After the censors and microfilmers were finished with the mail, Ed thought we had moved! Aunty was never one to disappoint a child, especially hers, so she bought a house. We never figured out how she got a mortgage on a seamstresses' salary but she did.

However, my story is not about us but about Eddie. He and his older brother were raised by a single mother before that term existed. At 18, Bill, the older boy, enlisted in the National Guard. Seemed like a good idea to 16-year-old Eddie, so he lied about his age and in 1939, he signed up too.

Of course in December 1941, their units were mobilized and the boys were sent overseas. Bill wound up in Europe with Patton's army and Eddie went to the South Pacific. Eddie was an avid ham radio operator, so he was sent to work stringing lines for radio communications. As part of the Americal Division, he saw action in Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Leyte and Cebu.

The family, consisting of Aunty, Mom, and us three kids settled in and eventually we stopped being "the city people." By this time my father had enlisted in the Navy. Every year, we hoped Ed would come to visit but one of his buddies always needed the leave more than he did. Our last visit was in 1941 at Fort Dix.

In 1945, as the war was winding down, the telegram came. On June 10, Edward G. Becher was killed. He was at a dance and his friend was dating a local girl, so Ed took his friend's patrol around the perimeter of the area, and was killed by a mine. He would have been 22 on June 24, 1945.

At this time of the year I realize that Ed is the forgotten. He never made it home to be a Long Islander or to see his house. He never did any of the things the Act 2 generation has done. His mother died in 1975 and his aunt, my mother, passed away in March.

In going through old pictures and papers, I discovered that Eddie not only received a Purple Heart, but a Bronze Star. The Bronze Star was for volunteering to disarm a mine field without proper training or equipment.

Both of the medals are missing, but I have some cartoons from his bunk mates and a letter from the young woman in Cebu who tended his grave. He was shipped home in 1948 and was buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery. Since he never actually lived in his house, he is not included on the list of World War II casualties.

He never had a chance to write his story for "My Turn," so I am doing it for him.

--Kate Cosenza, Lynbrook

 

Special days in life's long journey

I am employed at a daytime senior center. There are two cooks, and we help prepare hot meals for our seniors on a daily basis. As I peer over the counter, I see our patrons come through the door. They are greeted with smiles and warmth by a loving staff. Many of our members are seniors in their seventh, eighth and some in their ninth decade.

On any given day, transportation is provided by the center's drivers. These men are retired from full-time careers. They are selfless and they have befriended many of our seniors beyond their initial duties.

Aside from the usual senior center activities of bingo, cards, entertainment, outings and various classes, there is a daylong event that comes into play once the summer months are here. On Fridays, a group of us accompanies folks to Lido Beach for a day of fun and making memories. Our women are dressed with summer hats and colorful outfits to match their sunny outlook in anticipation of the day ahead of them. There is always lively conversation as we make our way to the beach.

When the bus arrives, we are warmly greeted by a beach staff member who informs the folks of the day's activities. We then head for shelter under huge metal mushrooms for protection from the sun. A wonderful vocalist entertains with songs of yesterday and a sing-along usually ensues.

One of the day's activities is line-dancing in an air-conditioned building. This is a winner and many participate. Once more, I witness all the laughter and, just for a short time, ailments and cares seem to be put aside.

Many look forward to spending some time in the pool and there is always a great box lunch waiting to be enjoyed before heading over to the large tent with upbeat music and dancing on the docket. Every performance usually closes with a patriotic song for all to sing. I observe people with their aides and think how fortunate some families are to know that their parents are being well cared for while they are working. But most of all I see people who can forget their aches and pains, their walkers and canes, if just for a few hours in a day.

Heading back on the bus, the chatter recounting the day's happenings is nonstop. Every stage of life must be embraced. Some will be better than others and when there are centers around to provide companionship, a nutritious meal, and, on occasion, a fun daytime outing, it needs to be recognized. Every aspect of this journey needs to be appreciated as well as the men and women who work tirelessly to help it come together for this very special sector of our population — parents, grandparents, our beloved seniors.

--Diane Sciacchitano, North Massapequa

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