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Suffering from combat fatigue and wounded in a South Pacific battle, young Marine corporal Ted Benson is granted a thirty-day furlough to visit his bride and family in his hometown of Middletown. Upon arriving in Kansas City, Ted suffers an injury in a taxicab accident that causes his shell shock to return. As Ted wanders the streets of Kansas City, he is befriended by reporter Bill Regan. When Ted, who does not remember anything about his past, shows Regan a letter from his family in Middletown, the reporter offers to accompany him home. The train to Middletown is overcrowded, and so Ted and Regan ride with the engineer in the locomotive. The engineer recognizes Ted, and as the train speeds to its destination, he relates Ted's history: Ted's father Arnold, a pillar of the community, owns half the town, including a factory. Rebelling against his father's regimented business and social life, Ted falls in love with Arline Cary, the daughter of Tom Cary, the town's newspaper editor, but his father believes it would be more advantageous for the family if Ted married Barbara Dunham, the daughter of the town banker. Following an argument with Arline, Ted discusses his problems with his younger brother Joey. When Ted's grandfather, Pat Benson, tells him that his father has arranged for him to marry Barbara, Ted telephones Arline and reconciles with her. Soon after, Ted informs his father that he has decided to quit college and go to work for Arline's father. At Thanksgiving, an editorial appears in the paper criticizing Benson's policies, thus jeopardizing the chances that the Benson factory will be converted into a defense plant. When the elder Benson discovers that Ted wrote the editorial, he visits Cary and denounces him and his daughter for turning Ted against his family. Upon learning of his father's accusations, Ted elopes to Kansas City with Arline. The newlyweds return to Middletown to learn that Pearl Harbor has just been bombed. Ted immediately enlists in the Marines, and after returning from boot camp on a short furlough, reconciles with his father. After a tearful farewell, Ted is shipped overseas. As the train pulls into Middletown, the engineer finishes his story and another train carrying Joey, who has just enlisted in the armed forces, departs. That night, Regan visits the Bensons and explains the great care needed to assure Ted's recovery. The next morning, Regan goes to Arline's house and informs her of her husband's condition. As the days pass, Ted's memory slowly returns and he begins to recall familiar events and places. Ted's recuperation becomes complete when he and Arline visit their favorite trysting place under a weeping willow tree and Ted remembers the special name that he and Arline had for the tree --"Willy the Weeper."