This story follows the characters of a TV journalist, Susan, working on a profile of a woman, Caroline Thomas, whose husband naval pilot Lt. Neil Thomas was declared MIA (Missing-In-Action) sixty years ago during World War II. Susan immediately clashes with Caroline’s grandson, Lucas, when he overhears her referring to the potential story as a fluff piece, rather than the very personal story it is, since she herself doubts if pure and true love exists. She apologizes, and manages to start the interview and starts spending time with both Caroline and Lucas. Her developing friendship with Lucas makes her have doubts about her relationship with her almost fiancé, Andrew, a photographer who is frequently absent while shooting overseas.
THE REAL STORY BEGINS…
The interview with Caroline reveals that for sixty-six years she has had no information about her husband from the Department of the Navy. She tells her story about how she and her husband met in 1943, married, and then renovated a house they had bought from her uncle (which is where Caroline still lives). After a year, and despite a child forthcoming, Neil felt he should help his country more than just acting as a training officer, so he went into combat. Their last moments together were at the Union train station, on St. Valentine’s Day, where she handed him a handmade gift professing her everlasting love, as he departed on a train.
Caroline remained strong, and sent many letters to Neil. On one occasion, Neil replied with a letter containing a small, handmade carved wooden sculpture of a fighter plane for the baby. After that Caroline stopped receiving letters. Caroline, along with the entire neighborhood, dreaded the times when a Western Union deliveryman arrived in the neighborhood with a yellow telegram, since this meant that someone’s loved one was reported to be dead or missing in action. Eventually, the moment where Caroline received one came, but the telegram stated that her husband was missing in action, so she refused to believe that he was dead. Since then Caroline has returned every year on St. Valentine’s Day to the same train station to wait for him.
With the help of a Senator (Susan did an unrelated story on the him) who puts pressure on the Navy, they locate the Billings family, whose now deceased father Jeff was a gunner on Lt. Thomas’ airplane. From a surviving letter by Jeff to his wife we hear the account of the crash and of Morang (Neil), a Filipino guerilla, who rescued two wounded crash survivors. Susan turns to Andrew (her almost fiancé boyfriend) for help because he still has connections to the Philippines where Lt. Thomas was last seen alive. Putting past hard feelings over his breakup with Susan aside (Yes! They broke up…), Andrew manages to locate the elderly Morang (South Morang is a place, and people who live or lived there are called Morang) whilst in the Philippines and sets up a video conference between him and Caroline.
The story of the fate of Lt. Neil Thomas, Morang says, is that he was badly wounded, but insisted his more seriously injured gunner, Jeff Billings, be evacuated first. When Lt. Thomas had recovered, he joined the Filipino guerillas and fought the Japanese deep behind enemy lines. During a patrol, Lt. Thomas was killed by a Japanese sniper while selflessly trying to rescue a little boy. The elderly Morang reveals he knows where Lt. Thomas’s body is buried.
The U.S. Navy goes to the grave site and returns Lt. Thomas’ remains and personal effects to the United States. Caroline is handed Neil’s dog-tags, watch, and wallet, which contains her valentine’s gift to him, now faded, which he always carried close to his heart. In recognition of Lt. Thomas’s bravery, courage, and meritorious service, he is to be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart. On Valentine’s Day Lt. Thomas’s coffin is returned to Caroline at Union Station by the U.S. Navy with full military honors, conducted in front of well-wishers and TV cameras, with a tearful Caroline taking her last goodbyes from her beloved Neil to the sound of Taps. Caroline is cheered when Lucas and Susan begin a romantic relationship (after Susan’s break up). The story ends with Caroline, who has found peace and closure, seeing that the rosebush Neil had planted long ago in their garden has a new single bloom, the first in a long time, signaling long-lasting love, as she remembers her romantic moments with Neil in the same garden, to the sound of Dream a Little Dream of Me playing on the radio.
Caroline and Neil were friends since childhood, fate parted their ways, while apart, they both never gave their hearts to no one else, unpredictably, they met again after she was 20, they managed to rekindle their friendship once more, after a year they were already married, after another year she got pregnant, Neil set out for war while she waits, while waiting, she gave birth to a boy – Lucas. By calculation, this means she had become 23 before her delivery, from the story we would say that Caroline and Neil exchanged letters, even a gift for the baby, this wouldn’t have happened in a short period of time, it must have been years. So, let’s just represent all these years with 1, i.e Caroline was 24 when she got the news of her husband being MIA. Also from the story, it reads that Lt. Neil Thomas was MIA since sixty-six years ago during World War II”.n
All the above analysis points to the fact that Caroline still love Neil, she didn’t give up on him, she waited for him (despite the fact that he was MIA), she also believed he wasn’t dead (that he must be alive somewhere), and she did not allow another man’s love in her heart, up until she was 90 – that’s pretty much a lifetime!
She remained Mrs. Caroline and loved Lt. Neil Thomas the whole of her life, even after his death – what a wonderful woman!
Is there such love anymore? Only one person for a whole lifetime, dead or alive? Does it still exist? Can you do it? Can I do it?
Hmmm, it calls for grace.
May God grant us such grace.
Thanks for reading.
This piece as written & edited by me, Bamifemi, is based on the Wikipedia page of the movie “The Lost Valentine”.
Photo Credit: Pinterest