07/19/09 — With heavy hearts: It hurts the most when it is one -- or two -- of your own

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With heavy hearts: It hurts the most when it is one -- or two -- of your own

When you are a military town, you know it is probably going to happen one day.

You get the news that one of your own -- or maybe more -- has been lost.

You mourn like the rest of the patriots who understand that behind every war are the men and women who fight the battles.

But this time, your heart is heavier, your tears more likely to fall.

This time, it is personal.

And that is how it will be for a while in Wayne County.

We will all look a little sadder and worry a little more -- not only about those who are currently serving overseas, but those who must carry on the mission even though there will be an empty place in their hearts.

We, alone, probably understand best the message that 4th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Mark Kelly sent to us and his airmen Saturday -- to honor the fallen, the rest of us must carry on their work.

It might seem harsh to someone else -- a miscue when a community and an Air Force base have just suffered so great a loss. How could anyone be expected to stay focused on a mission? Surely we could take time to rest and be sad.

But we know, as Col. Kelly said, that the job is not done -- and the fight these airmen were such an integral part of is continuing in Afghanistan and here at home.

So, with heavy hearts, we will fly our flags at half-staff and put our arms around those who wait at home while their family members serve. We will cry when we need to and share memories whenever we can. We will be here for each other and for those whose families are far, far away.

And overseas and on the base, the work will continue, with the focus still on the goal of making sure that future generations will live in a world that is ruled by peace and understanding rather than by tyranny and oppression.

We will all get back to the mission, just like the colonel told us we should.

And there will be another part of us, too, that will want to share the pride, the patriotism and the memory of the 336th Fighter Squadron Rocketeers we lost.

We will do that by making sure that those who do not know -- or who choose not to remember -- understand just what it costs to keep a nation, and a world, at peace.

So, we will tell them the story of the 336th -- and all the others who protect this nation -- and ask our fellow citizens to share in our pride and gratitude for every man or woman who wears a uniform.

It will be the least we can do to honor those we lost -- to make sure no one forgets that freedom is never, ever free.

Published in Editorials on July 19, 2009 12:06 AM