Walter O'Reilly squinted in the bright sun as he made his way across the cornfield. He had put in a long morning out in the fields and now was heading into the farmhouse for the noon meal. "Boy, is it hot out," he remarked to no one in particular, wiping his sleeve across his forehead to sponge off some of the sweat.
"Hot enough for you, Radar?"
"Oh, hey, Park Sung." Radar greeted the young man as he fell into step with him. He had come to Iowa from Korea several years ago and been an indispensable help to the O'Reilly's in making their small farm turn a profit. "Yeah, Iowa summers can get pretty bad. Nothing like the ones we had in Korea, but I guess you'd know about that better than me anyways."
"Yes, I'm glad I was able to come to the States." He was silent for a moment. "Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed in Korea."
"Do you miss it ever?"
"At times. Do not misunderstand, I am very grateful that your family brought me here and I like Iowa very much."
"Oh no, I understand. Korea was your home. I know I'd sure miss Ottumwa if I left, even if I was happy someplace else."
"Yes. I left to come here before the war stopped, so I can only imagine what it would be like now to be in Korea."
Radar nodded in agreement. "I guess the people will have had a chance to rebuild, huh? It's summer and 1958 now, so it's been about five years since the generals finally decided to stop making the soldiers fight."
"It has been exactly five years since the peace treaty was signed." Park Sung clarified.
"No kidding? Exactly?" He pushed his glasses back up since they were sliding down his nose.
Absentmindedly, Park Sung did the same thing with his glasses. "Yes. Today is the 27th of July."
"Hey, that's really neat. I knew it was sometime in July or August, but I never can remember those exact dates." A little black and white dog came running out to greet them as they approached the farmhouse. Rocky was Ranger's grandson and had recently taken over the role of top dog on the farm. "Hey, Rocky!" Radar bent to scratch the dog behind the ears, letting him lick his face.
"You had better not let your mother see him do that." Park Sung warned his friend teasingly.
"Yeah, she'll get all worried and say it's not healthy again. She never used to mind, ya know? Only since she read that article in Reader's Digest that said how many germs dogs have got. But that's crazy. Rocky doesn't have any more germs than me, do you, boy?" With one last pat, Radar stood up and the two men resumed walking with Rocky trotting at their heels.
"Do you remember the day we heard that the peace treaty had been signed?" Park Sung returned to the previous topic.
"Sure, I do! You and me and Ma were all sitting around listening to the radio and the news came on. The three of us had a little party."
"With some bottles of the bubbly!"
"Brand new Grape Nehi, still with lots of fizz." They both grinned in remembrance.
"And you did that little dance…what do you call it…a jig?"
"Yeah, I guess I did. I was just so happy that the police action war was over and everybody got to go home finally."
"You mean the people at the M*A*S*H unit?"
"Yeah, all my friends there. I wish I could of seen their faces when they heard the news." Radar's face lit up just thinking about it. "I bet Hawkeye and BJ went right in and tore down the Swamp. Maybe Major Winchester too. And Klinger probably burnt all his dresses to get ready to wear normal civilian clothes again. Except…" A thought occurred to him. "Colonel Potter wrote me that letter after he got back to Missouri, and he said Klinger got married and stayed in Korea. And this time his wife wore the wedding dress instead of him."
"When I was there your Corporal Klinger wore the army uniform, but he told me stories of when he used to wear dresses to try to get discharged."
"It's kinda hard to picture Klinger wearing a uniform all the time, but I guess he had to get a little more responsible since he took over at being company clerk after I came home. A lotta people depend on you in that job."
Park Sung nodded in agreement. "Do you still exchange letters with Colonel Potter?"
"Nah, not really anymore. We get a Christmas card every year from him and Mrs. Colonel Potter but it's not really the same."
"Maybe someday you will all see each other again."
"You mean like a reunion? Oh boy, that'd really be something, wouldn't it? I'd really love to have Hawkeye meet Judy." Radar laughed aloud at that thought. "I mean, I'd love to show her off to everyone, but Captain Pierce especially. Colonel Blake was kinda like the father I never really had, but Hawkeye was like a big brother."
"I didn't know your friends for very long, but they were very kind to me and my family, especially since they made it possible for me to come to Iowa."
"They were a swell bunch of people. I hope they're all doing what they want to be now, instead of what they hate." Radar was silent for a moment as his thoughts drifted, but then he perked up and said, "But that sure was a terrific day when we heard about the peace treaty. I wonder if Patty remembered that was today?"
"I'm sure she would be glad to know."
"Yeah, she would." The two had reached the farmhouse and now climbed the steps to the porch, going inside. Rocky stayed outside, taking up a post in the shade of the house. "We're back!" Radar hollered when no one appeared to be around.
"Oh, good. Me and Edna've almost got lunch ready. We're just having sandwiches since it's so hot." A pretty young woman came around the corner with a baby in her arms. She gave Radar a quick kiss on the corner of his mouth.
"Hi, Patty." He greeted her as he took his boots off so as not to track dirt inside the house. "You know what Park Sung was just telling me?"
"What?" Patty O'Reilly looked at them both expectantly.
"Did you know that today is exactly five years since the peace treaty was signed in Korea? I'd completely forgotten until Park Sung reminded me."
"Hey, that's right, it is! You've got a better memory than I do, Park Sung. Oh! That reminds me." She grinned mischievously at him. "Sadie called just a few minutes ago. I think it sounds like she's looking for someone to take her to get ice cream this evening."
Park Sung ducked his head, red creeping over his cheeks, but he couldn't keep the pleased smile off his face. "Thank you for the message. I will call her before I go back out to the fields." He had been seeing Sadie Peyton for several months, and although there had been a bit of rumbling in the community at first because Park Sung was Korean, now the two were generally accepted as a couple. "I will go wash up now." He left the room.
Patty giggled softly. "He's so cute when he gets embarrassed."
"Yeah, well you shouldn't tease him about it too much." Having been in the position more than once himself, Radar was a little more sensitive to what the other young man was feeling.
"You're cute too, Walter." She made a face at her husband to get him to smile. "You know, Judy's been waiting all morning for her daddy to come home." She carefully transferred the infant in her arms to Radar.
"Aw, you're just saying that. She's too little to be missing me yet." He beamed at his young daughter even as he protested. Judy O'Reilly was only three months old, and her eyes shone brightly as she silently observed her parents.
"Walter?" A voice floated in from the kitchen.
"You and Patty quit staring at the baby and come into lunch. I declare, you two act like you ain't never even seen a baby before! She ain't going nowhere." Edna O'Reilly let her son run the farm, but she was still matriarch in the house.
Radar called out, "Coming, Ma!" at the same time Patty hollered, "Coming, Edna!" The young couple exchanged grins at the automatic reply. "Here, you better take her. I gotta go wash up." He bent to kiss his daughter's nose before handing Judy back to his wife and leaving the room to clean up before eating.