Standing Watch on the Wall

On June 15th an F-16 crashed north of Baghdad.

I remember thinking that another family would be in mourning.

My mother called me two days later – the pilot was a resident of the small village where I was born and raised. His family farm is about two miles from our former family homestead.

Kevin was 13 younger than me, so I didn’t know him, but I knew his parents (not well) and his extended family. He was a Delta Airlines pilot, a Lt. Colonel in the Ohio Air Guard, and he always made time in the spring and fall for planting and harvest on the family farm.

The little village has had other tragedies over the years, and has always pulled together and recovered. During WW II the little village of 350 people lost 7 men KIA, which seems horrific to me, and I hear it was.

The churches and the American Legion Post are the bedrock of the community, and those groups will help the community stay upright and move on. The Legion has been a major force in the community since the post WW II years.

Seven times in the last decade I have stood in various small town cemeteries, tried not to flinch at the rifle volleys and failed to stay dry-eyed during Taps. Those ceremonies though were different, the veterans were carried to their rest by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren after long and full lives.

This is not the day to rant about the war, whether it is right or wrong, but a day to wonder at the courage of those few who stand watch over all of us, without question, and then to feel a bit of the sadness of the families and friends.