Sunday, July 29, 2007

An amazing experience to start my blog...

It seems appropriate to start my first-ever blog with an accounting of one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. Future entries may be more or less exciting, but they will always be a record of my Wildelife.

Our neighborhood has been beset by sadness over the last two weeks as we said goodbye to a 23 year old young man who was killed by enemy fire while serving in Iraq. I didn't know Nathan Barnes well, but I know his family quite well. It's certainly my first brush with the death of someone in combat. Within 24 hours of his death, some men in our neighborhood had organized a flag tribute on the street where his family lives. Along that street and the larger road that it crosses, 350 flags had been displayed. They vowed to have them up until he came home. True to their word, for ten days, every morning at 6 a.m. the flags were put up and every evening at 9 p.m. they were taken down. Sometimes the same people did the work, but often it was aided by those who were driving by and wanted to help. I loved seeing those flags each day as I drove by. They summoned a full spectrum of feelings from grief, to love of country and flag, to untold gratitude for all that I hold dear. They were accented by homes throughout the area flying their own flags and yellow ribbons tied everywhere.

Yesterday was the funeral for Sgt. Nathan Barnes. The service was lovely as his siblings spoke along with an officer from his unit. There was a powerful sentiment of how this young man just wanted to make the world a better place and to help others, especially the kids. Following the service, I had the privilege of being among some 800 or so uniformed cub and boy scouts and their leaders that lined the road with flags. I've never seen anything like it. For about a mile, one of two main roads through town was shut down for the funeral procession to go from the American Fork Tabernacle to the cemetery. They drove past the flags on both sides of the road to end at the cemetery which was also covered with flags and attended by a number of uniformed officers. I stood in my uniform as a current cub scout leader next to my 12-year old son in his boy scout uniform as we saluted and held flags. It was remarkable! There was a palpable feeling of reverence and respect for this family's tradition of service and sacrifice, but it was clearly evident that this was a show of love and respect for all those living and dead who have served so valiantly.

I grieve for Nathan's family. My mother heart pains for their loss. However, in their grief, thousands of others, including several hundred young men, were given a gift of a patriotic and moving experience we will never forget. I love this country. I love the flag and all that it stands for. I appreciate and honor all who have been brave enough to defend it. For that, I thank you, Nathan Barnes.