There were people clutching tissues.  I saw many of them dabbing their eyes and noses during the ceremony.

Gold Star families in attendance were asked to rise and the number of families leaves one with the impression of the massive holes in the lives of people in seats just a few feet away.

Saturday at Gayle Forsyth Memorial Park in Jerome a new monument was dedicated.  The SGT Dan Brown Idaho Fallen Soldier Memorial honors its namesake and all those from Idaho who’ve given their country the last full measure of devotion since September 11th, 2001.  The memorial weighs three-thousand pounds but as Jerry Brown, Dan Brown’s father, explained it can hardly rise to the efforts of their sacrifices.  I understand but I also watched the people around me at the ceremony and realized for some the symbolism is carved in steel.  To me it signifies their loved ones are finally and fully home.  Jerry Brown is an ironworker.  He explained as he was completing his efforts late last week children playing in the park were asking him why there was a statue of his son not far from the ballfields where Dan Brown starred as a baseball player.  In every question is an opportunity to explain what America’s best are about.

At many of these dedications there are political speeches and in some cases you cringe and wish the politicians had stayed home.  It wasn’t the case Saturday.  State Representative Maxine Bell remembered her mother believed or wanted to believe World War One was the War to End All Wars.  The Representative’s younger brother was too young to fight in World War Two but then later flew missions over Southeast Asia.  Last year he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery within sight of the Tomb of the Unknowns.  Jerome’s Mayor, David Davis, Reflected on Dan Brown’s love for baseball and the park and how current children will grow up in a better world through sacrifice.  The Chaplain who went to the Brown home to share the dreaded news spoke of the many names behind the podium.

It’s staggering.  This is a big state with a small population and, yet.  It took several minutes to read the names of this century’s war dead.  Gold Star families in attendance were asked to rise and the number of families leaves one with the impression of the massive holes in the lives of people in seats just a few feet away.  And then there were Dan Brown’s little girls.  They were so very young when their dad was killed you know they may grow up without any memories of the man.  As I watched them play on the statue after it’s unveiling I realized decades from now they’ll bring their own children to the park.  And then grandchildren and 100 years from now children playing nearby will still have questions and learn about bravery, heroism and love-of-country.

At one point during the speeches I heard screams of joy.  I looked beyond the monument and saw two small children playing in the distance.  This is the world bequeathed them by Idahoans willing to give their lives to preserve the laughter, community and love they experienced when young.



UPDATE:  I wanted to mention as well Lena Toritch.  She is the sculptor behind the statue of Dan Brown greeting the child.  For those who don't know her story she once lived under a totalitarian regime.  Like many who've come to the United States she has a great love for the country.  When I listened to her speak Saturday it was obvious the love for this land is translated into her work.  May God bless her for her efforts!


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