A kiss to remember

Published 11:27 am Saturday, March 6, 2010

Leslie Williams and Sam Drewry weren’t able to be together on Valentine’s Day this year.

Leslie, a 21-year-old student at Ferrum College, was in Roanoke with her parents. Her beau, Sam, had just shipped off to Mississippi for Army National Guard training and was preparing for deployment to Iraq.

“I was out on the shooting range,” Sam, 21, said with a laugh during a brief telephone interview Friday.

Despite being several states away from each other, the two, who have been dating off and on since they attended Southampton Academy together, were together in spirit — in New York City.

A picture of Leslie and Sam smooching was flashing on a billboard in Times Square throughout the weekend.

Williams’ mother, Kim, who took the photo, entered it in a Walgreens photo contest that she saw on Facebook. The contest was sponsored by Hershey’s Kisses candy.

“There was something about it,” Kim Williams said about the picture she chose to submit. “It was taken at his send-off ceremony in Lynchburg.”

The kiss took place in January right before Sam boarded a bus to Camp Shelby, Miss., for his Guard training. He was scheduled to return home Friday night and head to Iraq on Monday.

“It’s so nice that people like him want to serve their country,” Kim Williams said. “We’re so proud of him.”

The couple both said they were excited to find out that their faces were featured in one of the most famous squares in the world.

“I’ve been to New York several times, and I definitely didn’t think I was going to be up there,” Leslie, a Courtland native, said. “It would have been so neat to have been there and seen it.”

“It was cool. It was a surprise,” Sam said. “It’s a pretty good photo.”

Sam, a Boykins native, serves in infantry in the 116th Battalion.

“He’s funny. He makes me laugh,” Leslie, who is studying health sciences, said. “My whole family loves him.”

Sam isn’t sure how long he will be stationed in Iraq — possibly until next January.

“Thank goodness for technology,” Leslie said about how they plan to keep in touch. “I made sure he had a Skype (video phone call) account and knew how to use it.”

In the meantime, they’ll always have Times Square.

“I think it’s refreshing — young love,” Sam’s mom, Cindy Drewry, said. “I wish I could be there again. I’m all for it.”