The sun had not yet risen, when the United Airlines jetliner made its way into Los Angeles International Airport on Friday.
Clara Gantt, 94, had been waiting for this moment for six decades. Of course, for six decades, she expected that this would be a happy reunion. She expected that the love of her life would come bounding off an airplane after two wars and come back home, resuming the life they had planned for each other.
Talking to reporters at the airport, she said she had bought a house and gotten a gardener so her beloved Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gantt could fish or do whatever he wanted to do to be happy.
“I always did love my husband,” she said. “We was two of a kind. We loved each other.”
But when the gates at the belly of the plane opened, they revealed a flag-draped coffin. Gantt died as a prisoner of war in 1951 during the Korean War.
On Friday, he was home at long last.
It wasn’t the happy ending that Clara wanted. But she was grateful for the closure.
“I am so happy that I was living to accept him,” Gantt said.
Still, as she approached the casket, she began to weep.