That's what's I've been dealing with lately.
The uncle of one of my students and brother of a wonderful dance mom/family friend was killed last week in Afghanistan on his fourth tour of duty with the Pennsylvania National Guard. Staff Sergeant VanGiesen is 5 years older than me, dated the older sister of one of my high school friends for 14 years and was an all around good guy. A typical Pennsylvania boy, he loved fishing, hunting and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was one of our own. I understand that soldiers die every day as a result of the war. I am sad for their families and the passing of these brave men. But when you come from a town of 3,000 people, losing one of our own in the war devastates the entire family.
I've spent much of the last week mourning. Mourning the passing of a good guy, praying for his girlfriend and her family, for my dancer and her family and mostly just praying for peace of mind. Our entire town is grieving. We lined the streets yesterday as his remains came "home," back where he belongs. Rory waved her little flag and I cried as my dear friend drove by, crying quietly in a military issued van, following behind a hearse carrying her younger brother. Our community is in shock, the entire town has become quieter.
Tomorrow I'll sit in the high school auditorium and tearfully witness a full military funeral for a solider who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Kenny wasn't afraid, he was a proud solider and knew the risks going in. He was a career solider, a lifelong patriot. He died doing what he really believed in and for that...we're all proud to be Americans.