A few of the stories I found in frozen faces sculpted by John Lajba as part of the Victory ’95 50th Anniversary World War II Memorial in Heartland of America Park, Omaha, Nebraska.
Hat in hand, the farmer cannot bear to look, Eyes shut, head tilted down, It was not his son, It never would be. One less voice in church, One less chair at dinner, One less set of hands at harvest, One less future in the world. Arm wrapped securely around her waist Her empty eyes could not look away from the uniformed man Body hunched, slowly imploding, She cradled the flag, The only thing left of her baby.
A real hero, Just like Pops and Jim. I did what I could, sir. I have my scrap wagon, The toy trucks and tin pails. I filled my wagon everyday, Just as Uncle Sam asked. I sold papers, Stayed true to my studies, Never complained about rations. I looked after Mother. I’m too young to wear the uniform, But served all the same. I did my duty, sir, And someday I’ll be a hero, too.
Rosie the Riveter
Our boys are comin’ home. Or is it just another foreign land by now? They’ve been gone a long time now, So much has changed, so much sacrificed. When they left I wore dresses and sewed, Now, my coveralls are full of grease, Keepin’ the war machine runnin’ was a full time job. We stepped up when they needed us, And now that they’re home? I can see in that man’s eyes, They need us now more than ever. Cuz the war machine’s still runnin’, Except minds and souls can’t be fixed with a wrench. And behind his eyes is a broken man.
I feel their heartbeats, Their small chests fall down and up. I can hardly recognize them at first, They’ve grown so much. I’ve missed so much. I don’t know them and they barely know me. I’ve missed so much. Does my daughter even remember me or are my letters what she associates with father? I’ve missed so much. My son, the man of the house for years at such a young age, does he still need me? I’ve missed so much. They squeeze tighter. I hear my daughter giggle. I had forgotten that sound. “We love you, Daddy! Welcome home!” “I’ve missed you so much.”