I had just turned onto Lakeway Dr. at about 9:10 p.m. when I noticed a line of people gathered on the side of the road with flags and candles. I didn't know what it was all about but I made a split-second decision to turn off into a parking lot and see what was up. I did so and approached one flag-bearer with my question. She said it was because the hearse of the local Bellingham soldier, killed in Iraq, was going to be going by soon. I was thrilled--a little disappointed that my study time was going to disappear, but thrilled none the less. Leaving was not an option so I made a phone call home from the Mexican restaurant on the block to let them know what I was doing. They already knew about it. I discovered upon farther questioning that it had been advertised on the radio all day. Sigh...
Well, I stood there and chatted for a little bit. Someone loaned me a candle which had a random tendency to go out at weird times. I found myself itching about the fact I hadn't known ahead of time and not being able to at least bring a flag. I wanted to get a picture, write about it, save the moment for all it was worth. All I could think about was the fact that in a few minutes the remains of a brave young man would go by and the only way I could honor him was to just stand there respectfully. I had to stifle the urge to salute when the hearse finally did travel slowly by on its way to the cemetery.
As it passed by, I looked down...only to see that my candle had blown out yet again.
My friend who hosts the Bible study I was heading home from, is also a Journalism major. Most ironically, she had just finished doing a front page story on this soldier--yes, she even ended up interviewing his mother who works at Western. I'm glad I got the chance to be there when he came home for the last time. From all that I hear, he had only been in Iraq for less then two months and would have completed his three-year contract at the end of his tour in Iraq, which was going to be short.
It's late, though... I'm really tired and I don't think I can stay awake to finish this post with any kind of special dignified ending, so I'm no going to try...