Gary died when he was only 20.
I was five at the time. I remember the police officers standing at the door. My Mom (Vernette, who raised me) screamed, put her hand to her head and sank to the floor at the news of his death to a car crash.
The place where her hand came to her hair turned into a snowy white streak that stood in stark contrast to its jet black color. It was her visible scar of the grief she bore her whole life at the loss of her eldest son.
This week we have seen grief on display once again as the body of La David Johnson was returned from Niger. We witnessed his pregnant wife drape herself in sorrow over his flag blanketed casket. His little daughter stood silently at her mother’s side, watching her woe. She looked to be about the same age as I when Gary died.
I wonder if she – like me – will always remember her mother’s tragic tears?
This should have been a moment of dignity and respect for a soldier who died too young in a far off land most of us will never visit.
Instead, it has become political spectacle started by a bumbling President who tried, but failed, to show true compassion. It was made worse by a Congresswoman who – knowing the young man who died – expressed the family’s offense. It was made far more worse by the camera appearance of a Chief of Staff and Gold Star father who mixed politics and grief to fuel the fued
It is now Friday, and the feud still festers from more Trump tweets and accusations, recriminations and denials in overdrive
What actually matters is this. A small girl stood silently at her father’s casket, watching her mother change from one person to another in the face of her loss.
And the little girl will always remember it.