The loss of Columbia's crew is indeed a tragedy
Today, we nationally mourn them. I know that I will.
But, this tragedy is one whose perspective will be lost
by the glamour of space, the brilliance of astronauts,
the visual images of the breakup, and the opportunistic,
political grandstanding via the National debates to come.
Already the vigils have begun....
The President has spoken to the Nation,
The Pope said his piece, as have world leaders.
U.S. flags are at half staff.
Investigative commissions are formed.
Congress is exercised about safety, funding, & purpose.
Body parts are reverently being identified.
The up-close-and-personals are being re-edited.
And, the media has new material since it can
"back-burner" Iraq for a few days (and take local-news,
Laci's Disappearance, off the stove, entirely).
YET, JUST TWO DAYS BEFORE, WHILE RETURNING
TO BASE IN AFGHANISTAN, FOUR SOLDIERS,
WHO AS APTLY FIT THE PRESIDENT'S DESCRIPTION
AS PEOPLE "WITH A NOBLE CAUSE" DIED
IN A STUPID HELICOPTER CRASH CAUSED BY THE
COMBINATION OF SAND AND HIGH ALTITUDE ---
TWO, WELL UNDERSTOOD CAUSES OF HELO CRASHES.
The President didn't speak of these lost lives.
The Pope and world leaders did not take notice.
There were no scheduled press briefings.
The nation formed no mourning centers.
Flags weren't orderd to be lowered.
The surviving families never made the news.
And the deceased were never profiled.
You and I don't even know their names.
Of course the victims were not colonels, doctors,
astronauts, or perhaps even successful soldiers, yet.
They hadn't "Become All That They Could Become!"
Afterall, they were still just kids with a future robbed
by failed engineering and / or corrections for which
there'll be no hi-profile commission's study.
Though they were not killed by the enemy in whose
midst they live 24/7 -- hardly a momentary blackout
period -- they live in a surreptitious danger
greater than the predicable vacuum of space.
In all candor, their cause was as noble and far
more immediate -- to save the U.S./world from terror --
than any space endeavor which is futuristic, per se.
These troops were in a war theater where their enemy aimed
at them with a passion & hatred that has no redeeming value
not in space where the enemies are the blind, natural laws
of friction and gravity which most often redeem this planet,
and all lives on it, by burning up bombarding meteorites.
All of the above is not meant to diminish those lives
which were lost on Saturday, but to honor all of this
Nations "taken-for-granted" lives which were lost
during the days, weeks, even years before...
and sadly and certainly the weeks to come.
Surely, if they are not this Nation's heroes,
there are no other individuals worthy of the title.
The man-made evils of the world and the politics
which surround them are made relative by the
absolute nature of death and the lingering "deaths"
for the families and friends who must survive.
There is no less personal grief at the quiet gravesites
of our fallen troops than there is in Houston, today.
The grandstanding of the politician and others
over the loss of Columbia and her crew should be
tempered by the reality that each of us demands
them to be just as accountable for every service
person's lost life while defending this country.
The loss of Columbia's crew shouldn't be just a
sobering reminder of the inherent dangers in space,
but more so of the man-made dangers here on earth.
Each danger exacts a costly toll on our future,
as individuals, families, friends, and as a nation.
The life of an fallen astronaut is no more valuable
than the life of a dead dog-faced soldier.
Both are a real loss to us all.
For, they are all heros.