Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bringing home our veterans... and neighorhoods

Like many, I am against the wars the U.S. currently finds itself embroiled in and against, God forbid, intervening anywhere else in the Middle East. We have poured too many American lives and dollars into that part of the world, and while we've made progress and gotten gratitude, we've also made enemies and gotten treachery. In my neighborhood, this national tragedy has become poignant, real, and personal.
A neighbor I do not know personally, a widowed gentleman, has lost his only son, a West Point graduate, to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan (I believe the neighbor has two daughters). Word immediately went out on the neighborhood email and there was talk of a floral arrangement. Then others, including me, began to sugget a memorial gift would be more lasting--floral arrangements wilt and are forgotten so quickly. Perhaps something to the Wounded Warrior Fund?
Then came word that the young man's comrades at West Point were setting up a college fund for the daughters left behind--ages two, four and six. Of course that's where the neighborhood gift will go. The bereaved father announced a barbecue in his back yard, following the funeral, and the entire neighborhood was invited. The service will be Saturday at our downtown Catholic cathedral.
Today comes word that those planning to attend the service should arrive early--it is expected to be crowded. And the barbecue? It's been moved to the auditorium or cafeteria or whatever of the Catholic high school because of anticipated large crowds who want to celebrate the life of one of America's finest. Yes, it will be a sad occasion, but I imagine it will also be one full of remembrances and treasured memories and a certain, restrained joy.
Somehow that news of large crowds wanting to pay tribute touched me most of all. It's proof that some of us may not want the war but we have oh-so-much respect for those who give their lives for us, protecting us to the best of their ability. I'm sure Dario Lorenzetti was dedicated to America and proud of his country with the last breath he took. RIP Dario. Some of us who did not know you in life now feel we now you in death, and we respect the life you lived.
This whole tragic event has made me feel gratitude once more for the neighborhood in which I live, this small-town-like slice of life in a big city. My neighbors support each other in joy and grief, they turn out for festive occasions and holidays, but they also look after their own and are there when  you need them.


LD Masterson said...

Reports of community support like this tend to bring up mixed feelings for me. It is right and fitting that we honor our fallen heros and greet the returning ones with cheers and open arms. But I can't quite forget what we did to our service men and woman just a couple generations ago. My brother served in Viet Nam. He served his country when it called and he was lucky enough to come home. In the airport, in his hometown, he was spat on (literally) by a stranger before our parents could hussle him to their car and take him home. No cheers, no handshakes, no welcome home. He carries that memory still. How do we make that right?

Judy Alter said...

LD, the way we treated Vietnam veterans shamefully and are only now beginning to make amends. These current wars are also unpopular but somehow we have managed to do a better job of honoring our service people today. I am sorry for your brother's experience.