War in Iraq comes home

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Randy Matheny was a quiet kid, who preferred riding his motorcycle or working on computers to high school sports. He didn't speak out much in class, but was well-liked and was never sent to the principal's office.

"Just a sweetheart," Pam Wolford, his freshman English teacher at McCook High School told the Lincoln Journal-Star.

The kid who stayed below the radar and out of trouble, just wanted to serve his country by following the footsteps of his brother and sister, Paul and Karen into the military.

But the outside world found him -- first the despicable cowards who targeted his truck with a bomb in Baghdad on Sunday, and now the statewide media calling family, friends -- anyone who might have known the slightly-built 20 year old.

In a way, the attention is good. Sgt. Randy Matheny should not simply be recalled as a number, the 39th soldier with Nebraska connections to die in Iraq or Afghanistan since the war on terror began. It's important that we remember him for who he was -- a young man with his life brutally stolen for reasons none of us can truly grasp.

But his family and friends should be allowed to mourn with dignity, not subjected to the outrageous activities that have accompanied funeral services for other military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All of us who call McCook and Southwest Nebraska home must do everything we can to make sure Sgt. Randy Matheny and his family receive the honor and respect they deserve.

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