Summer Hiking

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Mt. Constitution

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ethan Martin's Memorial Celebration



Form the Lewiston Morning Tribune, August 18, 2012:  The sobs of a grieving mother cut through the silence as the remains of Army Spc. Ethan J. Martin came home Friday. Hundreds of people turned out to show their respect to the fallen soldier at the Sandpoint Airport as the Army officially transferred Martin's body to the custody of his family.

A 2009 Lewiston High School graduate, Martin died in Korgay, Afghanistan, last week after his unit came under enemy small- arms fire. His body arrived on a chartered flight from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and was then carried by members of the Idaho National Guard honor guard to a waiting hearse. Martin's parents are Kristie and Bob Surprenant of Lewiston and Harv and Pam Martin of Bonners Ferry. Family members stood stoically as they waited for the airplane to land shortly after 10:30 a.m., but several embraced and broke down in tears as its wheels touched down on Idaho soil. Martin's immediate family then gathered around, laying their hands on Old Glory and wrapping their arms around one another. The only sound that could be heard over the anguished cries of loved ones was the flapping of a nearby American flag that was lowered to half-staff.



Sobs filled the Salvation Army sanctuary today when the Lewiston FireFighters played Amazing Grace and TAPS on the bagpipes.  I think everyone in the church grabbed a tissue.   Most of the music played during the service brought tears to my eyes. The family chose music and artists that Ethan enjoyed. Singers like Garth Brooks and Reba McIntrye know how to touch emotions anyway, but more so today as their words reminded us of  this young soldier.  


Captain Ralph Guthrie, from the Salvation Army, read from John's Gospel, 15:13:  "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."  Those words truly reminded me of the sacrifice this young man made so we could enjoy our freedom.  A veteran, Howard Norsksog, read two poems that generated even more tears to those listening to his deep, booming voice.  Ethan's sister courageously read a poem by Linda White, sent to her mother, Kristi.

For a very short while God gave us our son.  He put a bit of heaven in the sunshine of his smile.
He took the dust from the brightest twinkling stars, and made his sparkling eyes.
And now, he's gone back home to God, to play up in the skies.
And though he left so quickly that our heart is grieved and sad, 
we know he lives with God and His large heart is glad.

The residents and staff from Juniper Meadows sat in a reserved section of the sanctuary.  One by one the residents greeted, Kristi, a caregiver who assisted them with their medications and gave them hugs every morning for over five years.  Now it seemed like it was their turn to return the hugs.  

Last week I sent out a quick EMail asking for food donations to be served at the celebration.  My Oblate Community and 4th Day of Grace donated 12 salads and three large batches of cookies.  I prayed for the family with every celery chop, with every cookie drop.  Sometimes it makes me feel connected to the family's grief and pain as I prepare food for them to share.  The staff from Juniper Meadows told me Ethan's family was overwhelmed with the outpouring of food donations and the turnout at the memorial service.  Kristi had asked the media to give them privacy during the celebration so I refrained from taking pictures myself.  Kristi told me that people lined the highway all the way from Sandpoint to Bonners Ferry waving flags and supportive signs.  I cannot imagine the pain this mother is feeling, but I did get a sense of her gratefulness as she spoke about the outpouring of love to Ethan's family.  


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