The quiet cul-de-sac where Maj. Gen. Harold Greene lived in Falls Church is a cozy and neighborly place, where residents host each other for holiday parties, share morning runs and emergency contact information and trade news of grown children and home repairs.
This being Northern Virginia, it is also a street populated by several military and retired military officer. And, it is a street where people often start their days by watching the news.
And so it was that Laura Blewitt turned on the television Tuesday morning as the anchors were talking about the American general killed in Afghanistan in an insider attack, the highest-ranking U.S. casualty since Sept. 11, 2001.
Blewitt poured herself some coffee and walked outside her townhouse to water her flowers. Then she saw the black SUV with government plates parked across the street, in front of the Greenes’ townhouse. And she remembered, immediately, that Green was a two-star general, deployed to Afghanistan early this year.
“It took my breath away,” Blewitt said. “I thought, ‘No, no, this cannot be Harry.’ ”
Next door to the Greene home lives Sangmie Schellstede. Her phone rang early on Tuesday.
It was another neighbor on the cul-de-sac, Grace Dailey, who is very close with the Greenes. Schellstede said Dailey told her that Greene had been killed.
“I thought I wasn’t hearing it right,” Schellstede said. “Then I looked outside, and I saw neighbors gathering in the street.”
The Greenes are relative newcomers to the cul-de-sac, having arrived just a few years ago. Many of the others have lived there for 20 years, since the light brick townhomes were built.
Although it is just a block from Lee Highway and I-66, the street feels shaded and suburban, a place of refuge from the daily hustle and bustle.
Until that black SUV arrived Tuesday morning, with military officials inside.
Joanne Caramanica said it was just natural to pick up a pot of yellow chrysanthemums to leave on the porch for Susan Greene, who was shuttered inside, absorbing the terrible news.
“This is a very close community,” Caramanica said. “We all knew he was going overseas. We were hopeful he’d be safe.”