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Patriots rose to the occasion last week, mustering from homes and farms to honor the life of a fallen brother.
They lined Tell City’s streets Thursday as the cortege carrying the flag-draped coffin of Barry Jarvis made its slow journey to Deer Creek Church. Students, store workers, old men and women, even preschool students stood outside, watching and weeping. Many held flags and placed hands over their hearts.
Perry County has always supported neighbors in times of need but few events sound a more heartfelt rallying call than death on the battlefield and amid last week’s tears, we shared in a pride that is rightfully ours from living in a community that embraces and encircles others in times of deepest darkness.
Perry County was at its best last week.
We hope the Jarvis family knows the love and deep appreciation of their husband, father and son’s sacrifice. Indeed, a man raised in our community died so we might live, a true patriot who gave all he had to protect what we hold most dear. The fallen hero joins a proud roster of men and women who have fallen on the field of battle since nearly our nation’s first days.
Their sacrifice remains a lasting debt, a covenant written in blood, between them and us. Their call to us from hallowed graves is constant: Stand in our stead, continue our battle.
We do that by honoring the memories of our war dead, teaching our children about the price of freedom and standing vigil to support, in words and deeds, those who fight today for us. We must do no less.
Thankfully absent from last week’s mourning were members of the Westboro Church, the Kansas congregation that makes headlines for picketing the funerals of soldiers. As editors we cherish the freedom of speech and the right for anyone to speak things not only unpopular but upsetting. However, we find reprehensible those who would inflict their religious beliefs on family members and a community in mourning.
Sadly, Westboro congregants achieved a long-distance impact last week. They created pain, anger and fear. But they also rallied our community and showed us the very best in ourselves: love of nation and each other. Among the hundreds of people on hand outside Deer Creek Baptist Church were some intent on shielding family members from protesters. That righteous anger we commend.
While our community will continue to mourn the loss of Barry Jarvis we need to remind ourselves that other communities and families will experience the same losses in the days, weeks and months to come. As the holidays approach, we should be mindful of the losses felt by so many.
Any words by us to honor the deeds of patriots like the one laid to rest last week feebly fail to honor that valor. Deeds, not words, stand the test of time and as long as we honor the memory of fallen heroes and stand ready to join their cause, our nation will continue to fulfill the hope of Abraham Lincoln, who on a field of battle at Gettysburg, prayed ... “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
We lived those words last week.
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