Aug 13, 2009

My Classmate, Scott Speicher, Returns Home Today

Being a member of the largest graduating class in the history of the State of Florida means that Scott Speicher's remains will be received by large number of my classmates tomorrow. His memorial procession will trace through my childhood streets and high school, past the familiar bastions of Naval Bases--familiar but never taken for granted-- and to a final home of rest in his native country.

Although I may have had a passing acquaintance with Scott within the walls and classes of my school, I cannot claim a long-past connection with him in the close confines of a small west-side community school. My connection with him is more far-flung; by an extra 2,000 miles removed from Desert Storm. From Mexico City, Mexico.

I lay awake in the wee hours of the morning, listening the the English language ABC radio affiliate giving news of our effort to rescue Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's rapacious appetite for expansion. It was very tense, being in a foreign country amidst many neighbors who were not happy with the U.S. "imperialism" never mind the Kuwaiti people's real fear for their lives. The radio reporter droned the heightened military activity and the strain of not having a body count to gleefully report was certainly giving the newscasters no blood-money to send their market share numbers up. But you knew the inevitable number ONE would be reported breathlessly at some point and it made one tired.

I snapped alert and awake at the mention of "first casualty" and his hometown. My hometown. So far away and now so real in my imagination; I missed home, my school, my friends and vicariously felt the pang of loss reverberate amongst my classmates, their faces long faded in my memory now parading in front of my thoughts. It was sobering and sorrowful all at once. And has been for all these long years since.

I am considering going to meet Scott Speicher's procession tomorrow, and show my respects for him and take the time to realize that the community that I felt so far away from on that day, was there then. They'll be there today and tomorrow, too. The solidarity of support and profound respect is just a part of this city. And likely in your city, too. And in a thousand other cities around the country the same connectivity, awe, and gratitude keeps us together.

There will be no need for formal organizations or clubs or government subsidies to compel us to hold the line of honor for our sacred dead. We are bound to bow the head, doff the cap, hold our hands to our hearts in humble gratitude for such an unfathomable and selfless act of freedom.

Welcome home, Captain Scott Speicher, to the real meaning of home and freedom and unity. It can't be created or bought or organized into being. It resides in a place so deep and primal, so tangible to the Spirit, that it is hidden in plain sight, safe from the petty politicians and ivory-towered ideologues.

Safe in our hearts, the memory of our fallen.


Betsy said...

I'll be there either as he is on the way down Roosevelt to the Memorial Wall downtown or on Blanding to the church or both, I'm right in between the two. God speed Captain Speicher.

Betsy said...

And very well said too, Joan.

Oceanguy said...

I'll be working tomorrow, but I went to the Chapel this afternoon. I was expecting a respectful visit, sign the guest book and leave. Instead I was punched with unexpected emotion. I wrote my thoughts too, and I assume you get the same comfort from writing yours. Thanks,

Jean said...

Aspergantus might be there, also.
Beautifully written piece, Joan.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Thanks all. Be sure to read Ocean Guy's post. It's wonderful.

julie said...

Beautifully said, Joan. Welcome home, Captain Speicher.

PeggyU said...

Yeah, you should go. Maybe you should send what you wrote to his family as well. It was very well said.