This week I participated in a sad event. A young Marine, who died while stationed overseas, came home. As the procession passed through my hometown, hundreds of residents lined up along the highway to pay their respects. Flags were flown, salutes were given, and tears were shed for this young man we didn’t know. The fact that he was a stranger didn’t matter. Putting aside the often divergent thoughts about the military, in that one moment in time we were all one; grieving for one of our own in solidarity with his family, friends, and fellow military members.
Like me, the people lining the highway were changed by the shared experience of honoring a stranger and looking into the tear filled eyes of his friends and family members as they passed through our community. We were participating in something none of us wanted to experience but one that is a part of life and one that hopefully makes us more empathetic to the sorrow of others.
But there was something else I learned about my community that day. As I watched everyone walk away, it was easy to see they too had been touched by what we witnessed. The easy banter we had shared while waiting for the procession was gone. The mood was somber and solemn as parents reached for their children’s hands, couples pulled each other close for a lingering hug, and more than one person wiped away tears as they nodded and shared a sad smile with the stranger beside them. We had been part of a reminder that life is all too fleeting and we should never forget it.
Be well my friends…