Thriving Love

2013-05-25 11.08.19
Marge and I at Riverside National Cemetery, Memorial Day Weekend 2013


[Please also see “Mr. Johnson, USMC” if you wish to learn the background of this couple from the Greatest Generation by clicking on the link.]

Dear Marge,

Well, Marge, you made it indeed…  To see your beloved husband Johnnie for Memorial Day.

A heroic US Marine who fought on-board the USS Enterprise in World War II.


And he was but 17 years old when he set sail for the Battle of Midway.

Seventeen.  You said he was still in high school when he signed up for the Marines.  Unbelievable.

We were met by thousands of American flags being planted by hundreds of Boy Scouts and volunteers.  You were so happy to see the red, white and blue saturating the cemetery, bit by bit.


While the Boy Scouts hadn’t made it to your husband’s resting place yet, we had our own little flag… and your beautiful bouquet we were able to pick up along the way.  You were so pleased with them but we made it a promise the next bouquet will be the colors of the USMC – scarlett and gold.  You knew he would like that.  Yes you did.

It was only the Saturday before Memorial Day but you were so elated to see how many people were there already…and we arrived at 10:00 AM!  You were worried we wouldn’t be able to find a place to park when someone upstairs opened one up for us.

You were so anxious to visit him that you made it out of my car in record time and walked as quickly as you could!

While you used your stroller to get to the general area of his grave site, we had to leave the stroller and walk the last twenty yards on very saturated ground.  You were holding onto my arm so tightly as the muddy earth gave way as we walked.  Remember?  My shoe sunk into the soil and inch or more.

And when we got there, we couldn’t find any water decanters…  They were all being used by the hundreds of other mourners…but by some lucky grace, we ran into Vicky…  She had bought 1,000 beautiful flags on her own and her niece was placing them neatly all along the columbine.  She went out of her way to find one for you!

Vicki and her niece holding another bunch of the 1,000 flags she had bought to place along the columbine.
Some of the 1,000 flags purchased by Vicki and placed by her niece for our fallen.

Your bouquet was so beautiful, Marge.  You said quietly Johnnie – your husband of 66-1/2 years – would like them so much.  You miss him dearly, don’t you Marge?  I miss him…


And like the last time, on Easter Sunday, you talked with him…

She is talking to Johnnie… True love and devotion…


You shared with me again of how he left your life…and you were there for him til the very end… and how alone you felt because you are the last one alive from amongst your friends.  There is no one else.  You said you still look for Johnnie at your assisted senior care center to ask him a question but he doesn’t answer…

Thriving love…


We promised to go back in two months, yes?

I will be calling you because he means so much to you… and it means so much to me.

I wish people would understand your love and devotion.

Marge and Mr. Johnson on their wedding day in June 1945.
Marge and Mr. Johnson on their wedding day in June 1945.

With love and admiration,


43 thoughts on “Thriving Love”

  1. Oh my, Koji. I wasn’t prepared for tears! How blessed you’ve been to know Marge and the heroic and wonderful Mr. Johnson! You are a tremendously good friend to assist Marge in such a personal way. I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to take a brief look at a wonderful couple and see how much she did love her dear husband. What a remarkable story! And those flags are so special!!

    1. Thank you… I was in a little bit of “funk” since before Memorial Day. I knew it was going to be tough…but Marge enjoyed the visit with her husband so much…

  2. Thank you for sharing this true life story of some of the greatest generation people. James

  3. It is nice to see what you did for your friend and for me to see Riverside Cemetery. My uncle MSgt. James J. O’Leary, USMC is buried there. Thank you.

    1. gpcox, I will be happy to place a flag at your uncle’s gravesite next time I go on my own. Please let me know…OK? Oo-rah. (ps If you wish to see the grounds, there is a video Marge asked me to take at Mr. Johnson’s funeral service. It shows a LOT of the cemetery including a National Medal of Honor Memorial.

      1. Thank you so much for the video. It makes me feel good that he is in such a peaceful and beautiful place. I would be honored and so grateful if you would place a flag on Uncle Jim’s gravesite. MSgt. James Joseph O’Leary 12/24/27 to 7/28/78, plot# 2 1268

      2. gpcox, I will be very, very honored to do so…and will think about Smitty at the same time. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity…

  4. Koji…love does thrive. Marge and her Johnnie. You for your friends. Vickie and her niece with their kindness. Thank you for showing us love and devotion. We can never have enough. Beautiful post.

      1. That’s okay Koji. It was beautiful. And like we’ve discussed before….it’s not perfect to you because you didn’t say everything. Yet. You will. I trust your ability. And your affection for your friends.

  5. Can’t find the words to express my gratitude for all you have done for her and her husband when he was alive. I know the feeling of meeting old veterans and their wives. I know the feeling when one has departed and one is left alone with only memories.

  6. Semper Fi, Koji!

    You are the living embodiment of what the words mean. Thank You for being there, and thank you for telling us about Vicki and her family. Folks like you make us a better country.

    1. It’s the least we can do now, robakers. Like Marge said, she is the last one and very lonely…yet, they gave their youth for our country…which we inherited.

  7. Thanks for continuing to share the story of these two incredible people. Have you ever considered turning this into a book, Koji? The good people of this greatest generation have so much to teach us and they are passing so quickly.

    1. Thank you, amishcreekjoe, for stopping by again… A book? I don’t think so… I’m certainly not a writer and lack the creative thought process to do so… But you and others can! Thanks for the lovely comment, sir!

    1. gpcox… I apologize… Frankly, I didn’t know you had posted them. My trouble is that on my “reader”, there’s bloggers who post quite a few “re-blogs” in one day. Almost all posts from others, then, are pushed way down… Plus, I’ve been in a bit of a depression since a little before Memorial Day which got a bit heightened after taking Marge and cleaning Old Man Jack’s head stone… I’ll look them up today after work!!!! I am sorry!

      1. After watching the video link you sent me, I can understand your emotion. When you feel up to it (and not before) I will patiently await your opinion, no apology needed.

  8. A beautiful story, from the way you told it (in 2nd person–very unusual) to the touching video, to the wedding photograph that shows such love in their eyes. And what a good friend you are to take Marge to see her beloved. So poignant in so many ways.

    1. Thank you, Jan. I’ve yet to really get into your book, too, I’ve been so “lost in space” the past month… I’m sure you did a MUCH nicer job of tugging at hearts. 🙂

  9. A very beautifully told story Koji. As Jan Morrill says it is an unusual style and makes for a riveting commentary. It’s very good to remember those men and women who gave so much. This is a terrific presentation, with the mix of photos old and new and the video.

      1. 🙂 thank you – you always have such kind words for me. It is a blessing getting to know you.

  10. Reblogged this on Masako and Spam Musubi and commented:

    Although many readers will be busy into their three-day weekend, it was deemed appropriate to re-blog last year’s Memorial Day post of Mrs. Marge Johnson.
    I had promised to take her back to visit her husband in a couple of months…but that was never to be. She also passed away after an illness.
    While her husband Sgt. Doreston Johnson survived combat during WWII, I still believe it fitting to reshare their story. In addition, her first visit to see her husband is chronicled here:
    Enjoy your weekend.

  11. Beautiful story. The pups and I walked in Veteran’s Memorial Park here in Orlando on Thursday evening and we were surprised at the number of joggers, walkers, bicyclists who had already been by or were stopping by as we were. It’s a small park and usually pretty empty, but not that night.

    1. I think that is wonderful. I sincerely hope a few of them walked away with remembrances and appreciation for those who were killed so they may walk by that same park Thursday evening. Thank you for your visit and enjoy your weekend!

    1. I suggest you watch Steven Spielberg’s “The Pacific”. It is on Amazon Prime for free. While nothing can record war’s fear and instant death in a movie, this comes somewhat close. Watch Episode Eight from about the 40 minute mark… Consider it part of your life experience. If you can’t watch it, you will be unable to fully imagine and appreciate what these young boys did – and died for…

  12. So moving Koji. Peggy’s mom (now 94) still talks to her husband, John, who passed away a few year back. John, too, was a WWII vet and flew as a hump pilot over the Himalayan Mountains. Once, Helen received a letter from the military telling her than John was missing in action. Shortly after, she got a letter from John. His plane had crashed due to weather conditions and John had walked out of the mountains alive. When John and Helen moved to Sacramento several years back, I would take John for a walk every Wednesday on the American River. He loved it. Before he passed, he requested that his ashes be scattered where we had walked. Rest in Peace, John. And thanks for your service. And thank you, Koji. –Curt

    1. I recall your stories about John and the photos of him, Curt. You were fortunate to have been able to listen to some of his experiences. To have crashed during one of his hops and to be able to walk back to his comrades kind of tells me he crashed not too long after takeoff. As you mentioned, the C-46’s he likely piloted was pushed to its limits flying the Hump. I don’t think he ever felt “confident” taking off. I hope you or Peggy will write about his experiences in detail…soon.

      Thank you always for your kind commentary and compliments, Curt.

      1. I recently acquired a copy of the original letter John wrote home after returning from his jungle hike, Koji. The blog will be written. –Curt

      2. We look forward to reading another one of your great stories, Curt.

        Koji D. Kanemoto Sent from my Nexus 10 On May 27, 2014 10:08 AM, “Masako and Spam Musubi” wrote:


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