Holiday hopes and prayers for our service people

Monday, December 17, 2001

When columnist Mike Hendricks' son, Brandon, recently died while in the military, Hendricks took the risk of sharing his inner anguish with his readers.

The response was overwhelming. Many readers could identify with the pain and sorrow of losing a child, and dozens of them responded to the McCook college instructor's columns about the terrible experience.

While this one was not a result of battling an enemy, it is, sadly, an experience that has been repeated all too often over the two-plus centuries our nation has been in existence. From the Revolutionary War, through the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Persian Gulf and now Afghanistan, the scene described by Hendricks has been repeated thousands of times. Officers grimly knocking on the door of loved ones, delivering the news which will leave loved ones emotionally scarred for the rest of their lives.

The latest war made itself felt in Nebraska from the beginning, with closed airports and skies eerily clear of the usual vapor trails from jetliners.

Camouflaged National Guardsmen on duty at McCook Municipal Airport remind us that America is at war, and the battle on the far side of the world can make itself felt here at any time.

Nebraska suffered one casualty on the first day, Capt. Laurence Daniel Getzfred, 57, of Elgin, Neb., who was killed when the terrorist-hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon.

A Nebraskan was also among the three Marines wounded Sunday, but we're thankful that Lance Cpl. Nicholas Sovereign, 20, of Battle Creek was not more seriously injured.

Sovereign told his parents that he was wounded in the leg, an arm and near his right ear. In typical Marine fashion, he was more worried about one of his comrades more seriously wounded, and wanted to get back to his unit as soon as possible.

We're proud of our service men and women, and grateful that they are willing to do what needs to be done to end the terrorist threat to their homeland.

Let us hope and pray at this Christmas season that they return to that homeland safely, and soon.

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