Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Soldier's Coming Home

I often get my panties in a knot about the lack of attention we show our service members when they arrive home in a casket instead of a plane seat. Occasionally you will hear about a funeral procession and, if people get the news in time, they will line the street waving flags to show respect and appreciation. But, in general, a Soldier's remains returning home earns a 20-second news spot and a paragraph on the second page of the paper. It happens more than we realize. It happens almost everyday. Last week, it happened 30 times.

Army Specialist Mark Downer returned home on Friday. A 2005 graduate of Northside High School in Warner Robins, GA, he was just a baby, 24...25...when he was killed in Afghanistan last week. His body was flown into Robins Air Force Base yesterday. Living so close to the flight line, I hear every plane that takes off and lands from this base. I know I heard that plane, but it sounded just like any other. No fan fare or special effects to alert me that this cargo jet was carrying someone precious. I went about my day as any other Friday. I posted my 2 RED items. R.emember E.veryone D.eployed. I titled one of them "Sacrifice." How ironic. As I was photographing "Sacrifice" in the shade of my front yard trees, a plane carrying Spc Downer was most likely flying low over my roof, preparing to land less than a mile away. Sometimes the coincidences are too great to dismiss.

But I didn't know. I don't watch the news (ignorant, perhaps, but I learned in June that it's better for my sanity). I had no idea that as I was posting my items, pricing them and writing descriptions, that Warner Robins streets were lining with people preparing to honor a fallen hero. I am so sorry....to Spc. Downer and to his family, that I was not there among them. You deserve to know that his sacrifice is not in vain, your grief is not ignored, and he will never be forgotten. We are proud of Spc. Downer and I salute him today and every day. And I pray for you and your family for it is a long road ahead without the sound of your son's laughter, the joy he brings you just by being here. Thank you, Spc. Downer and thank you Downer Family.

via Google Images (Freedom Remembered: Remembering Our Troops)

If you are interested in supporting the Downer Family financially, the MJD Memorial Fund has been established at all 8 Mid-South Federal Credit Unions to support Downer's 1-year old daughter.

11 comments:

  1. What an awesome tribute Ally...

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  2. RIP Spc Downer. Wonderful post, Ally.

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  3. Any sort of comment I could try to make would probably sound far too trite to bear, so I will just say thank you for posting this.

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  4. You're mighty special, Miss Ally.

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  5. Whatever political views everyone may have on war, there's no denying that people don't come home alive on either side.

    It's very sad for the Downer family and I hope they have the strength and support that they need at this difficult time.

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  6. You honored him with your words here

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  7. I posted the info about it on my Facebook Thursday night. I got it from Macon.com as I check it most days. I don't blame you for not watching the news or reading newspapers. Nathan and I stood on Watson Friday morning and honored Spc Downer. Then on Saturday, we took the kids and stood on Carl Vinson as his funeral procession took place. Any military member's death affects me, but Spc Downer's especially has...maybe because he's from here in WR? I bawled myself to sleep Friday night just thinking about it...he's so young, 23 and he leaves behind a baby daughter. He had such a full life ahead of him and what a fine young man to sacrifice everything for our freedom. Seth, my youngest has been really affected by this as well. He was crying inconsolibly on Saturday after we left...he has so many questions that are so hard to answer. Thanks for this awesome post Allyson. May God bless Spc Downer's family.

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  8. That's a great tribute to Spc. Downer. Incidentally in the UK a little town near the airbase where soldiers' bodies are repatriated has become famous for the way its people turn out to honour each serviceman. But in budget cuts the repatriations are now moving to another airbase and it is sad that people won't get the chance to pay their respects.

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