War is hell.

I don’t know that anybody likes it … especially the families that are sending their young men and women over to fight.

It’s tough, both physically and emotionally on both the soldier and the soldier’s family and friends.  It pushes us to make decisions we’d never make in a perfect world.  But those who do fight do so out of a sense of duty, a sense of sacrifice.

And sometimes those young men and women not only fight … they also die.

Their story ends in a crescendo that is as sad as their decision to serve was honorable.


When I heard about the 30 military personnel (37 persons overall) who were killed when their helicopter got shot down this past week, it made me think about my friend, Cpl. Brandon Hardy.

I played ball with Brandon when I was young.

He had a great smile.

His smile was one that brought out all the good in his face … it made him look more handsome … it brought out his awesome eyes … and made him look more mischievous too.

I remember where I was when I found out that Brandon was KIA in Iraq in the spring of 2006.

I was sitting in the chapel at the funeral home with my mom and all her family, looking at my maternal grandfather as he lay in his casket.  He had passed only a couple days earlier after a short battle with cancer.  The quiet was disturbed by the sound of the phone, prompting my father to run from the chapel to the office.

After a couple minutes he came back with the disturbing news.


Cpl. Brandon Hardy

I’ve never seen our community pull together to honor somebody the way they honored Cpl. Brandon Hardy that week.  In fact, as long as I live I’ll remember.

I’ll remember how – on the night of Brandon’s viewing – we left the funeral home, escorted by the police, with the family in procession behind us, and as we headed to the church, which was located nine miles away. There – by the thousands – were people lining our path, some waving flags, others holding signs, “We Love You Brandon!” and “We’re Proud of Your Sacrifice”; others saluting as the hearse and family drove by; but all – together — honoring Brandon’s sacrifice.

It was the single greatest outpouring of honor and love I have ever seen.


I live in a special community.  A community that – at times – is close knit to a fault.  A small town, where your bad activity is in the paper the day before you do it.  But, where there’s real love and real concern for their own.

Over the next couple days, as those 37 service men and woman are laid to rest, I can only hope their respective communities can honor their sacrifice as ours did for Cpl. Brandon Hardy and his family.  I can only hope that the families can have that one gracethe grace of community that responds to sacrifice with honor.

There’s nothing more honorable than sacrifice.

And there’s nothing more moving than when that sacrifice is given in death. And there’s nothing more powerful than when that sacrifice is responded to by a community, out of their love.


If you would, say a prayer for the 37 families who lost loved ones this past week. I don’t know any of them, but I know many of them will be dealing with anger, bitterness and a pain that few of us know, and that the rest of us should be thankful we’ll never understand.

Pray that their communities can pull together in support and give the families the grace of honor in death.

It’s in sacrifice that we see the highest and best in humanity.

And it’s in honor and love that we see humanities highest and best response.

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