Two days, two men, too young

On Friday, one remembered was a Marine.

He wanted to protect the world.

On Saturday, one remembered was a farmer. He wanted to feed the world.

Both were killed in their lines of duty.

Both were 21.

Two days.

Two men.

Too young.

Both were great tragedies.

Both sets of families received enormous amounts of support from this community.

Both days – although different in format – garnered an overwhelming response from those who showed they cared.

You know who you are.

Maybe you rode a horse, or a motorcycle.

Maybe you carried and shared coolers of water because it was so incredibly hot outside.

Maybe you said a prayer.

Maybe you held a flag.

Maybe you filled a tank for horses.

Maybe you directed traffic.

Maybe you stood on the courthouse lawn.

Maybe you stood on the steps of the auditorium.

Maybe you helped a family on their farm.

Maybe you let your workers stand alongside the road to show their respect although you had a lot of work to do.

Maybe you were forced to explain to your children, the best that you could, what death means . . . as well as the promise of an afterlife.

Maybe you shed a tear – or a lot.

It was a moving 48 hours in this town. So many of us, even if we didn’t personally know these two young men, somehow felt connected to the tragic situations.

Maybe it made us think about people we’ve lost in the past.

Maybe it made us appreciate the people we have in our lives.

Maybe it made us face the horrible, stark reality that when people step up to do their jobs – they just might lose their lives.

Maybe you thought about your own experiences – military veterans know the horrors of war, farmers know there are risks in everything they do.

Maybe we realized the fragility of life.

But there’s no maybe about it – the vibration of emotion was evident, the stirring of hearts and minds was real.

For the families, it was a heart breaking time. But I’d like to think that maybe, just a little, some of their sorrow was lifted by knowing thousands of people genuinely stood behind them, wanting in vain to take some of the burden.

What I know, for sure, is that this community showed its communal strength, the true heart of what we are as a people. I’m proud to live here and I’m grateful to have witnessed it.

Now that the streets are quiet and the world has moved on, we need to continue to remember the families and of course . . . those two days, those two men, who were too young.


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