The streets of Byron, Illinois are lined with flags. Hundreds of full sized, beautiful, new flags. I don't know how they got there or who put them there, but I do know why they have come to line the streets of our little town. Today another flag will come to town, draped across the casket of Marine Lance Corporal Alec Catherwood. Alec graduated from Byron High School in 2009, the same class as my youngest child. Yeah. He was a young man, a brave young man who's goal was to become a marine yet, he was a baby.
This is not our town's first loss. We lost Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Patton in a roadside bomb in Iraq a few years ago. Another brave young man. Another baby. Byron is a small town, a really small town and when a tragedy like this occurs, we are ALL affected. Right now, I am experiencing this as a parent. I know many people in town whose children have joined the service and gone to war and shared in their worry when their kids are shipped out and the joy when they return home.
It is not my inention to get political here, but, as a parent, I simply cannot accept this loss without commenting on all of our soldiers. I recently saw a photo of several flag draped caskets lined up in the hangar after being returned to the states. The cutline read: Can you tell which one of them is gay? It could have asked if we could tell which one was democrat, republican, male, female, black, jewish, or ADHD. The point is, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. They are all brave, they put themselves out there to protect our freedom and they are young men and women who belong to someone. They are husbands, wives, fiances and, they are our babies.
There is a pall of melancholy covering not only our town, but our surrounding towns as we prepare for Alec's return. We are not only bringing home a marine today, we are bringing home; a friend, a fiance, a son. God bless the Catherwood's. You are in our collective heart. That's just the way small towns are.