I first came across Gary Formica in the early 1990s. I was walking my yellow Lab in a nearby neighborhood, and the second sign above the street sign caught my eye.
Gary P. Formica, SP4 A-KIA 10-4-70 Vietnam
I never knew him, never even heard of him before coming across this memorial sign. Nearly 25 years on, there wasn't much thought given to a stranger who died long ago in a place far away.
And yet, I was drawn to this place, to this corner, or across the street from it where I stood long gazing at the stranger's name. My dog would realize we weren't going anywhere and settle in the grass. Did Gary live in this corner house? This house where their dog barks at strangers until it realizes we aren't here to disturb the peace.
I'd wonder if his parents lived here still. What did they think when then went outside and saw their son's name on a corner sign. Did he have brothers and sisters and their children who never met him?