Thursday, Corporal Jonathon Blair, 21 years old, was laid to rest. I met him when he was just a toddler and I last saw him at a campfire by the river before he went to basic training.
My tears were for the loss of a young man. A young man who planned to marry his sweetheart and become a chef when he got back. A courageous young man killed by the terrorist cowards in Iraq. A young man full of laughter who invented veggie baseball at the river.
My tears were for his mother. A single mother who did a marvelous job raising a son. A mother who drove over 400 miles last September to give him another hug when his deployment was delayed two days. A mother who brought home medals instead of a son Thursday afternoon.
My tears were for the rest of his family. His grandmother and grandfather who helped raise him in his youngest years. His aunt, one of my best friends, who is grieving for herself and for her sister's incredible pain. His six-year-old niece who decided just to pretend that he was still alive.
My tears were for my son who wants to join the army, who only sees honor in a fallen soldier, especially a soldier honored by his comrades. My need to let my son go, make his own decisions, become his own man.
And as I followed the funeral procession, my tears were for the outpouring of respect and thankfulness by the community. Staff Sgt. John Beville, who trained Blair and served with him during his first stint in Iraq, said "I wish all soldiers got this."