No words: We can only promise never, ever to forget the price paid for freedomThere are no words that can take away the pain the families, friends and comrades in arms of Capt. Mark McDowell and Capt. Thomas Gramith must have felt as they remembered -- and mourned -- this morning.
No words, no speeches, no medals, no folded flags can erase the loss of a son, a husband, a father, a brother, a friend.
They were the lucky ones -- the people who knew these two heroes not just as a fighter pilot and a weapon systems officer, but as Mark and Tom. They knew their best qualities, their courage, their kindness, their love, their friendship -- firsthand.
They will carry the memories that will be treasured forever of two young men whose lives ended much too soon, but who impacted so many.
No, there is no comfort to offer the McDowell and Gramith families that will make them forget that today's service means they have lost something precious and irreplaceable. There is no way, really, for us to understand what that loss feels like.
But even though we cannot ease their pain, we can assure them that today, and hereafter -- in this community -- the men who were lost were not just two more names added to a list of those who served valiantly and left this world much too early.
We might not be Capt. McDowell and Capt. Gramith's hometown, but they have -- and always will have -- family here.
Nearly 3,000 people picked up blue ribbons to wear today to honor the men the 336th Fighter Squadron lost -- and to make sure those who will carry on their mission know they have the support, prayers and gratitude of their hometown.
There could have been 5,000 ribbons -- and still there would not have been enough for all the people who wanted to make sure they had a way to show they care, they mourn and they understand just what has been lost.
So even though the memorial is over and the salutes are done for now, there will be an empty spot in Wayne County's heart -- just like the hole in the F-15E Strike Eagle formation that flew over the ceremony.
Capt. McDowell and Capt. Gramith will forever be our heroes, too -- examples of courage, patriotism, selflessness and of the qualities that really matter -- faith, love and friendship.
Published in Editorials on July 28, 2009 2:54 PM