Grannie Annie heard from her sergeant in Afghanistan. The packages that she, and this community sent, had arrived! "Thank you for all of the boxes everyone is truly appreciative of everything you have done for us," read the short note.
Then the other shoe dropped! "Unfortunately we have lost three great Soldiers," continued the Sergeant's missive. That from a small combat outpost with probably only about 200 some personnel assigned for the long winter. Hopefully the packages you all were responsible for sending to that God forsaken place give some comfort with a message that someone cares. Grannie again says "Thank You."
Curious to know more about the fallen warriors Grannie accessed the internet. She found the fallen came from the small communities of Booneville, Arkansas, Greer, South Carolina and the larger Spokane, Washington. One, unmarried, had joined the Army just out of high school. Another had only been married about a year and his new widow lives in Manhattan, Kansas. That is probably a good thing as she will be surrounded by military families who can render her loving support in this time of loss. The third was divorced but still he has family who will miss him.
To us, unattached and far away, those three losses are no more than a distant statistic with very little real attachment to our personal lives. To those communities that produced those three young men the loss is more profound just as it was in McCook when our own 20 year old McCook High School Grad Sgt. Randy J. Matheny fell in Iraq combat. For the families whose own flesh and blood was sacrificed those young faces will forever come to mind associated with the Thanksgiving Holiday and Christmas to come. Thus it has ever been. Freedom comes with a price.
Again this week I have been blessed in teaching a young man to share my own avocation. On a bright crisp late fall morning (Is it still Indian summer?) we flew to the shadow of the Rockies. Destination Fort Collins. Flying west across the plains one can't help but notice the stress on the landscape from the summer's drought. Pasture grass is short and the dryland wheat is showing green but the stand is spotty. In contrast fields of wheat under pivot irrigation are a vibrant healthy darker green. Virtually all the corn, soybeans and other fall crops are now harvested. Unusual to note are many acres of droughty corn rolled into large bales awaiting in uneven rows to be collected from the fields.
Flying from the plains where the horizon is 360 degrees level and unobstructed it is always somewhat a shock to note mountains abruptly arising in the purple west. A minute ago there were none now they stand proud with many already covered in snow.
The rather new Fort Collins Loveland airport is a friendly place, a good location to "hang out" while my student was off attending to his business. In this case a matter of lending family support while his father was having surgery. All went well and we departed in the dark for home.
Now flying single engine aircraft at night is not one of my favorite adventures in life. The only thing worse in my book is single engine night weather! I'd sooner take a beating.
Not so this week. This was one of those flights where it is wonderful to be alive. The full harvest moon shone brightly above the horizon. The journey was perfectly smooth at altitude where we savored a brisk tail wind. The air was so pure and clean that we could see the lights of towns forty to fifty miles in each direction. Up above accompanying the moon were several con-trails marking brother pilots meeting airline schedules. Life was good!
I was a bit saddened to read my friend "Mike at Night" feeling rejection for his liberal stance on life. Don't quit writing, Mike, as it is well for us conservatives to see what the other side is thinking.
Such is why I listen to Public Radio and subscribe to blogs from the White House and our representatives in congress, yes, even Sen. Ben Nelson. Gonna miss Ben but he did it to himself. It has to be tough being a liberal voice in this very conservative neck of the woods. Hang in there Mike.
That is the way I saw it.