There is, for us lucky people, the loving family into which we were born.
And then, there's the family with whom we played softball; with whom we shared pitchers of beer at Storm Inn or queso at Tippy's Taco House; and those with whom we volunteered at the fire department and worked side-by-side as a protector and server; spent time at the Legion. … And grew to love and hold in a quiet special place as life moved on.
That family's loss hurts just as much.
The death of Marine Lance Corporal Eugene Mills III at age 21 touches so many of us who have been lucky to know his family and his parents, Gene and Theresa. They are people who didn't just choose to live in the Laurel area, but who made this town a community. They and others like them are the lifeblood of this town. Quiet contributors who day-by-day choose to do the right thing — to get involved, and who by example raised their children in that same spirit. And they — through their courageous and loving son — have now been wounded, too. This is a wound some say that never heals.
In 1968 in Vietnam, I came across a hand-painted sign over a bunker. It read: "For those who fought for it and (almost) died for it, life has a special value the protected will never know. "
We now — as family — need to reaffirm to the Mills family that their unimaginable, indefinable loss has been felt, too, by all of us and we are there for them whatever they need.
We must do more than just lower flags. We must assure them that as part of that community "protected" by their son and so many others, we know of that "special value" life has and that young Gene's presence helped make it so.
Linda Sullivan Schulte