Patriotism is alive and well in Rogers County.
Thousands of residents lined the highways and streets Thursday to pay homage to one of its own. When news of Pfc. Jon Townsend’s death in Afghanistan came, residents felt the sorrow once again for a fallen soldier.
Just one year ago, residents found themselves standing shoulder to shoulder paying their respects to Sgt. Anthony Del Mar Peterson of Chelsea, who was killed when his unit was attacked while on a dismount patrol in Paktia Province in Afghanistan.
Peterson was 24 years old and on his second tour of duty.
Resident pulled together then and on Thursday. They showed how proud they are of those who serve in the military. They joined in their grief.
Men, women, boys and girls lined the streets, some holding small American flags, others standing with their hands over hearts and others standing at attention with solemn looks on their faces.
Among those was a woman who shed many tears as the procession passed along Will Rogers Boulevard.
She had experienced the loss of another Oklahoma soldier, 1st. Lt. Damon Leehan, 30, who was killed when the military vehicle he was riding in hit an improvised explosive device in August 20111.
As her tears rolled down her cheeks, she told me the families would feel the support shown by those standing along the streets.
Just knowing the community was praying for them and sharing this reverent moment with them would speak to them, she said.
No one can really know the pain and heartbreak the Townsend family is experiencing.
Unless, one has directly felt the loss of a loved one in battle, they can’t know how it feels.
Those who came out to show their support could identify with the loss. It was the best they could do. They joined together to lift up the Townsend family and that’s what patriotism is all about.
In this time of sorrow, we pray for those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom.
Randy Cowling is editor of the Claremore Daily Progress.