HEROES: Back from the War

A light drizzle fell all morning.

In the afternoon, people gathered at the funeral home in South St. Louis. It was much like any other American funeral parlor, with stippled walls and dark-painted woodwork, and the sick-sweet smell of wreaths and flowers. There, in a steel casket, the flag draped over, lay the body of Otto J. Weiner Jr., private in the Marines, killed in action on an unnamed Pacific island. American Legionnaires stood guard. A Lutheran pastor spoke the eulogy, said the prayer.

The body in the steel casket had come 12,000 miles. On that unnamed island where he was...

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