This past week has been marked with sadness and yet also the emergence of kindness, hope and strength that marks us all as Americans and also people of God.
On Saturday, July 11th, an early morning telephone call awakened Judy and me. Her nephew, Andy Davis, the selected sculptor for the Martin Luther King statue at the State Capitol and the Glavine-Smoltz-Cox statue at the future Sun Trust Stadium, was at Grady Hospital in a coma after being struck by a driver (who later on was charged with DUI). Judy said that Andy was like the son she never had. I have never seen Judy as upset and she still griefs for him.
On Tuesday, I attended the funeral services of a favorite aunt. She married her husband before he went off to World War II, kept the home fires burning despite the anxiety that came with knowing that her husband was part of the invasion at Normandy and fighting across Europe until the end of the war. She was a beautiful and loving soul who brought joy, laughter, and support into my life. She was a wonderful representative of the Greatest Generation.
While attending the funeral for my aunt, I learned of the shooting and ultimate deaths of a sailor and 4 Marines in Chattanooga. One of the Marines, Lance Corporal Squire “Skip” Wells, was a graduate of Sprayberry High School. The outrage from these murders is still growing. More importantly these tragedies may finally be the catalyst that is needed to convince the American people that the best way to respond to radical terrorists is ensure that government official s make public security their number one priority and give public officials the political support they need to take such measures. As I learned long ago in my participation in the military response to the Los Angeles Riots in 1992, and later, while in a Persian Gulf country and being responsible for providing force protection for the members of my military office and their families, much of what we do is founded on the expectation of security. Regrettably, as in the death of these members of the newest Greatest Generation, it often takes a tragedy to wake people from their complacency.
The bright shining light in all these sad episodes is the response of family, friends, and American people in general in gathering around the grieving and doing everything possible to let those in mourning know that they are not alone in their sorrow. All those who passed in the last week left a legacy that will be carried on. My aunt in a nephew who will carry forward her sense of duty and responsibility to his family; the community of Andy Davis which is committed to his vision of the arts, a vision I never fully appreciated until I attended his service and joined the hundreds in honoring him; and finally, the fallen members of our military who gave their full measure of devotion. These warriors probably would have been truly amazed at the response of America to their sacrifices. But, then again, maybe they are sitting in heaven and watching with satisfaction that comes from knowing that, despite their short lives, they made a difference.
May all these great Americans rest in peace.