By Samantha Macrus, The Morning Call
Dolores Reed repeated the joke a few times Monday: "He finally got his way."
Jesse Reed was her only son, an only child, and he liked to have things his way.
But the Army had made the 26-year-old a man, and his wife made him the father of three.
On Monday, the Army specialist killed 11 months ago when his convoy hit a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan was remembered as friends, family and politicians gathered to rename Seventh Street in Whitehall to Jesse Reed Way.
It's a route he drove regularly to his job at Whitehall's Palace Pizza, where a sign still hangs in his memory.
Dolores Reed, who has since moved to Allentown, still finds herself on the busy road often.
"It really hasn't hit me yet. I'm seeing it in black and white, but it hasn't hit me," she said. "The community has been an outstanding support. It's almost been a year and they're still there for me."
She stopped earlier at his burial site at Cedar Hill Memorial Park in Allentown, which she visits regularly. She was delighted to find his grave marker had been installed in time for Memorial Day.
"[The street] is going to be good," Jesse Reed's wife, 27-year-old Heather Reed, said. "I'm going to smile when I think about it and when I see it."
She wears dog tags and his wedding ring around her neck and her youngest son, Jesse Jr., is a spitting image of his father, she said.
Jesse Reed never met the boy, whose dark hair and blue eyes are so much like his own. He was expected home for a two-week leave late last August to meet his second son, who turned 9 months old Monday.
"This is a solemn day of remembrance," U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent said at the street dedication.
Last week Dent visited Jesse Reed's longtime friend Adam Keys at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Keys survived but was seriously injured by that same roadside bomb.
"It was inspirational and uplifting to have the opportunity to spend some time with him," Dent said.
Services across the Valley honored soldiers who lost their lives 150 years ago, 50 years ago or just last year, like Jesse Reed.
While the significance of the day weighed on the Reed family and friends, Vietnam veteran Larry Trexler worried that for many the meaning was lost amid the parades and picnics.
He brought his own grandchildren to the Bethlehem parade and service at Memorial Park Cemetery to explain how some people fought for this country, and some were hurt, and some were killed.
He and wife Louise Trexler taught their grandchildren about honoring the flag and why their grandmother wore a red poppy in her hat.
"They were excited to go swimming today, but I said before they could we have to honor the soldiers," said Larry Trexler, a Vietnam War infantry medic.
They understood, he said. Still, as the crowds cleared, 8-year-old Brooke tugged at her grandfather and asked, "Can we go swimming now?"
Like the Trexlers, state Rep. Steve Samuelson and Mayor John Callahan urged the Bethlehem crowd to remember "the ultimate sacrifice" as they pass by the cemetery on Dewberry Avenue or Linden Street.
"Today, let us not take lightly that which has been handed down to us," Callahan said. "Let us express gratitude for every American who has passed from the battlefield to the light."