BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- It’s a small gesture honoring a World War II veteran, but it means the world to his widow.
Peggy Pike said she cried Friday when she arrived at her home on S.W. 6th Street and saw a memorial in her front yard.
“This (memorial) is from neighbors who just wanted to put something down,” Pike said. “They loved him, and he would like this. He would really like this.”
Her husband, Herbert Pike Jr., died Friday at the age of 93.
Peggy said she knew the moment she saw Herbert that the two would be together until death due them part.
“We were married 55 years, 7 months and three days,” Pike said without skipping a beat. “They were wonderful years.”
Peggy said her husband had a fulfilling life, including serving in World War II. He was drafted at 18 years old, served as a corporal and oversaw a crew of men who were responsible for shooting down German planes.
“We lost a lot of good men, good young boys,” Pike said.
Herbert was one of the lucky ones and, after three years of service, was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.
“Until last Friday, he could tell you every war story,” his daughter, Lynda Reed said.
After serving, her father carried mail for the U.S. Postal Service and worked for an area grocery store. Reed said her dad was loved by so many, especially the children in his neighborhood.
“When Dad would go out to the mailbox, the little kids would come out to give Dad hugs,” Reed said. “The kids loved him.”
Some of those children are partly responsible for the memorial, which includes a soldier statue, candles and flowers, among other items.
“I don’t know who all has put stuff out here, but it helps me get through it,” Pike said. “It really does.”
“He was a wonderful man, and we’re all going to miss him,” Reed said.
Herbert’s family said the response from the neighborhood has been overwhelming, and they’re honored to know so many people want to pay their respects to a man who risked his life to protect our freedom.
“I don’t know how many we have left, but they need to be treated with great respect and decency,” Pike said.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, as of 2016, there were more than 18,000 World War II veterans living in Missouri. Herbert will be laid to rest Thursday in Higginsville.