Cpl. Collin Schaaff and his wife, already the parents of a 1-year-old daughter, were expecting their second daughter in November.
Gunnery Sgt. Mark Hopkins and his wife had three children, the oldest of which is 2.
Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Ryan Lohrey had just married in June.
Sgt. Joseph Murray and his wife had four children 5 and under.
When Capt. Sean Elliott was 4, he took a model C-130 to bed with him, his father told a San Diego, Calif., newspaper. His father said the pilot shared his Christian faith by serving others and his country.
And each of those families experienced a similar situation last week as the one described by the brother of 31-year-old Sgt. Julian Kevianne.
“The Marines knocked on my mother’s door at 2 this morning,” Carlo Kevianne told the Associated Press July 11. “They said his plane went down, and they weren’t able to find him.”
That plane was, of course, the Marine Corps KC-130T that crashed into a soybean field near the Leflore/Sunflower county line July 10.
Hearing that news is probably the most jarring thing any relative can experience. One moment you’re living a normal life during peacetime, and the next you’re a grieving widow or mother or child.
The 16 service members aboard that aircraft now join the 1.1 million Americans who have given their lives in defense of this nation.
At most times, I’m not someone whose patriotism stands out, but when a plane falls out of the sky near where you live, it’s a jarring reminder that military service comes with very real risks. And without people willing to take those chances, our great country and the freedoms it professes would be ripe for takeover from the despots and terrorists that plague our world.
And as a father who is similar in age to many of the dead, it also sinks home deeply for me.
So now seems like an appropriate time to remember and reflect on President Abraham Lincoln’s famous words in the Gettysburg Address:
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground.
“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”