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.