This is going to be a serious post for a change. It is about an incident that occurred a couple weekends ago while we were driving to Lake LBJ. We were on our way there to spend a long weekend with my family and were running late because of a wrong turn. We had reserved a boat for a certain time and the rest of the family was waiting on us. Because of this, I was irritated and Brad and I were on each other's nerves!
We came into the town of Burnet, Texas on HWY 281 and I began to notice American flags flying everywhere. As we drove further into town, we began to see people out in lawn chairs dressed in red, white, and blue and waving flags. I had to stop and buy something at the HEB grocery store and I noticed they were selling flags for almost nothing and many people were buying them. I began to think to myself, “this is what I love about small town America...they must be having a patriotic parade or festival or something”. I was also in a rush and annoyed and I remember thinking “why is the HEB so crowded, don't these people need to be at work on a Friday morning”.
I got back in the car and hurried out of the parking lot and back onto the highway. I saw more people with flags and some even had signs. The first sign read "All gave some...some gave all" then another one read "God Bless Jason". My heart began to sink as I came to the realization that this was not a fun, patriotic parade in a small Texas town. The town of Burnet had come together to honor one of their own fallen heroes. As I was started to become aware of this, I noticed the cars in front of me braking. My car came to a complete stop and when I looked up at the oncoming traffic, I completely lost it. I began to weep as I saw the flashing lights of countless police cars. They were escorting Jason's body.
I don't know how long we sat there, but suddenly I didn't care about time or how late we were. My little problem wasn't really a problem at all in comparison. I told Brad that since none of our friends or family have had to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, I haven't been majorly affected by the wars. I get emotionally stirred when I read the headlines and see the news stories but haven't personally experienced the hardships that wars cause. I also wonder how I should feel about that...guilty, lucky, thankful??? This experience brought me face to face with the realities of war. Feeling ashamed for arguing over such trivial matters, Brad and I apologized to each other as we continued on to the lake.
Later, I went on google and was able to find the news stories and obituary for Jason. He was 28 years old, about to celebrate a wedding anniversary, graduated from West Point (had the same major as me), was a captain and earned several awards including two purple hearts. He wasn't someone who signed up for the military because he had no other option and was putting in his time. This was his calling and purpose in life and he gave all to it. He believed it was a cause worth fighting for, as do I.
I hesitated to blog about this. In the end, I felt that I should as some small way to honor Jason by bringing attention to his life. His story became more than just another headline for me. It makes me yearn for the day when "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away”.