Friday, October 21, 2011

Honoring a fallen hero

Photo by Lucy Mercer
This story isn't about food or books, but just a glimpse into the town and times I live in. I brought my camera along yesterday as our county honored a fallen hero.

My small town was covered up in the American flag Thursday. It was not the 4th of July, not Labor Day, Memorial Day or Veterans Day, or any of the traditional days when there might be a parade downtown and folks young and old wave Old Glory. This was a parade of a kind, but a somber occasion - a young Marine from my hometown was killed in Afghanistan last week and his body was brought home. The motorcade from the airport to the funeral home made its way through the heart of the county, the roads lined on either side with businessmen and women, children, veterans, retirees, schoolchildren. 

The Marine is Lance Corporal Scott D. Harper, nicknamed Boots, and he was 21 years old. On my way to downtown, I drove along the same route as the motorcade and watched the power company place a flag over the highway. I took this picture from inside my car:

Photo by Lucy Mercer

 According to the obituary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Harper was everyone’s friend in high school, played four years on the golf team, and he really liked boots. His last phone conversation with his dad involved sending a new pair of boots to him in Afghanistan. Along the motorcade route, men placed boots on their truck to honor him.

Photo by Lucy Mercer.

 The school where Harper spent his first grade year was along the route and the schoolchildren lined up to watch the motorcade. In the city, volunteers handed out flags and office workers came out to watch. The motorcade began with a dozen officers on motorcycles, and another dozen vehicles, blue lights flashing, representing local law enforcement. Then there was the hearse and the cars with the family members, some of whom looked out the car windows, as amazed as we were that so many citizens came out on a cold autumn day to honor this young man. 

Motorcade along Church Street. Photo by Lucy Mercer.

Behind the hearse were at least 100 motorcycles representing the Patriot Guard Riders who protect the family members (with the permission of the family) from protesting groups such as Westboro Baptist of Kansas. Westboro was not present for the motorcade, but has stated on its website that it will protest at the funeral on Sunday. The Patriot Guard and our sheriff have vowed to keep them away from the family and funeral.

Patriot Guard Riders. Lucy Mercer

Patriot Guard Riders. Lucy Mercer

Like everyone else who watched the motorcade, waving flags and wiping tears, my thoughts and prayers are with this young man’s family and friends. They are grieving the loss of a son, a grandson, a brother, a friend. I don’t know the family directly, other than names that are familiar from living in the same town that I graduated high school. I do know that it was important to me and to my community to come together to remember this young man and to let his family know how thankful we are for his service.

Boy with flag. Lucy Mercer

Flags on the square. Lucy Mercer.

 Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.


The Teacher Cooks said...

Lucy, what a great post! It has been a sad day at our school and you captured it, love the photos

Richard Moore said...

So very sad but thank you for giving us this story with both your photos and vivid prose.

God bless his hometown for giving him the attention and respect he earned.

As someone who served in Vietnam, I have often contemplated the loss to our country and society of such fine young men and women. The cost is so very high.

lucy@acookandherbooks said...

Richard Moore: thank you for your kind words about this story and your service to our country. My heart breaks that this fine young man's life was cut short. You're right - we've lost too many.