On January 16, 2016, 30 year-old Matthew Trevithick, who had been imprisoned by the Iranian government for undisclosed reasons, was released and returned home to America.
Two days earlier, on January 14, 2016, 23 year-old Marine Corporal Christopher Orlando was one of 12 people who were lost in a helicopter crash off the coast of Hawaii while in the midst of training exercises. The search for the bodies was suspended after five days and Cpl Orlando and his colleagues were presumed dead.
Our tiny town organizes welcome parades for military veterans when they return home, to say thank you and to help with the vet's re-entry into small town life. While Cpl Orlando was not returning home, our Veteran's Services Department and our local emergency responders asked the community to stand vigil as a show of respect for the family as they returned home from services and debriefing with the Marines in Hawaii.
For some reason, BMG and I decided to attend.
The family was scheduled to roll into town at approximately 7:00 PM. The route for their police escort was published by our local police department. So, at 6:40 PM we left our home and headed to the library to park and stand vigil.
|Photo credit: Jeffcutler.com|
Surprised and moved to tears.
We watched the police department's Twitter feed to keep apprised of the family's progress from the airport to home. It was there that we learned that emergency responders from across the state were lining bridges across the highway to pay their respects. We met up with some neighbors and, as the Twitter feed and occasional siren told us they were near our stretch of Main Street, we silenced our chatter and stood at attention.
|Photo credit: JeffCutler.com|
Both BMG and I couldn't understand why we chose to join our community in this display of patriotism and pride. We don't know the family. We don't have children and wouldn't begin to pretend we understand what the parents and siblings are going through. And we aren't law and order people; standing up for the military isn't one of the community actions that make drives either one of us. But, I'm glad we paid attention to the impulse in our hearts and went. It feels like one of the most meaningful things I've done in a long time.
RIP Cpl Orlando, and Semper Fi.