Jerome Edmonds Kelly
West Point, 1965
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Vito Mussomeli on March 12, 2018:
I knew Jerry when we were very young, 5th grade till High School graduation. We first met in Japan, both of us army brats, continued our friendship at Ft. Belvoir and met again in Germany when his father was stationed in Heidelberg and our family was near Stuttgart. We were altar boys together in Japan and Belvoir and our fathers friends from sometime in WWII or shortly after. Our families knew eachother well. Jerry taught me fishing in the Potomac, we played sports together, biked and played tennis - I stayed with him and his folks in Japan and Ft. Belvoir, even Germany though we saw eachother only a few times there.
I met Lee while visiting him once. We were taking the SAT's at the end of High School. I remember we had breakfast at her parents' home in Heidelberg and she was then (I presume now) a lovely and gracious hostess.
But then Jerry went to the Academy and I stayed in Germany to work before returning to the States a year later to begin at a University. We corresponded and my great regret is that I was unable to attend their wedding. We lost touch though our parents stayed in touch. I heard news of him through my parents. In 1967 I came out of OCS at Benning but did not know where Jerry was. Apparently our service in Vietnam may have overlapped. I was there April 1968 -1969. When I returned home my folks told me of Jerry's injury and loss of memory. I could only pray for him. I was told visiting was not possible. And life drifted away in many directions.
Then in 1991 I contacted Colonel Kelly, his father, through my parents and asked if I could write Jerry. He thought it was a good idea and I did. Jerry wrote back saying he did not think we should. I noticed he did not address me directly in the letter and so I assumed he had no memory of when we were young and all the events and talks and aspirations we shared. I wrote again to him that he had been a great help to me though we had not been in touch for nearly 25 years.
But I can say this: one evening in Germany he gave me advice about being a father though we were barely 19 and neither married. His words stuck with me through the decades and helped me become a much better father than I would have been on my own alone. His advice was that when you have children, they come first despite your own dreams and hopes for yourself. I've followed that directive and it has brought me riches of affection and personal satisfaction beyond what I could achieve had I turned away from my children when those times of alienation or severe emotional hardship came along. Jerry was my polestar friend for service to family and our Creator. I have not regretted an instance living out his advice.
In 2016, learning he had passed over the year before, I visited my brother in Northern Virginia and together we went to Arlington to visit the graves of our parents and to find Jerry's. We did find him, placed a stone on his headstone and thanked hm for all he did while here.
After that morning in Heidelberg, I did not meet Lee again and have never met their children. I do not know where they are now. But if they should read this, I want them to know their husband and father rests peacefully in an old friend's heart because he taught that heart how best to live. And I wait to see him again in a world more akin to his own dreams and prayers. ... be at peace .... Vito
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