I've just finished reading a article (in yesterday's Washington Post) about a friend of a friend of mine, who was married in 1956 (as I was) to a young Naval officer (as I was). It was the Cold War era, a time when many of us married young military officers. I didn't know this woman, but I had heard her story from our mutual friend: that three months after her wedding, her husband's spy plane was shot down off the coast of China. His body was never recovered. A year later he was declared dead by the military. She returned to school, became a doctor eventually, married another doctor, and went on to have four children.
And then...thirteen years ago...she discovered that he may not have been killed, that there was a seemingly strong possiblity that he had been captured by the Chinese and held prisoner there.
She has not been able to cut through the red tape and evasions of either the American military or the Chinese government to find the truth, and so she will have to finish her days with that uncertainty.
It made me remember the days when I was a young military wife, living in military housing in San Diego, and I saw two officers in formal uniforms knock on the door of a nearby dwelling in order to notify the young woman there of her pilot husband's death.
And of course it brought back the memory of the official visit to my home - two officers; they always do this in pairs - to bring me the paperwork and the 200-page explanation of my own son's death in a fighter plane....