Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fallen Soldier

"...any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind..."
-John Donne, Meditation XVII

Every now and then, in my travels, I come upon one of these...

[Name graphically obscured.]

...and my heart fills with anger. I don't know if you have these testimonials, generally to human stupidity, out your way, but here one usually stands in tribute to a drunk driver who killed himself or who took some innocent soul out of mortal existence. It's hard for me to exude any genuine sympathy for somebody who drives inebriated and as a result screws up his life or ends it, but even so I find myself sharing Donne's sentiment in feeling sadness because we're short one comrade on this pilgrimage of life, even if he wasn't the brightest crayon in the box.

That same kind of shake my head and wonder why anger and melancholy came upon me last year when a young soldier crashed his ATV into a legally parked trailer and ended his life. That's his "shrine" pictured above, only a few blocks from where I hang my hat at night. I happened to be driving around the corner nearby there that evening and saw all the flashing lights, but it wasn't until the evening news came on at 11 that I realized what had happened.

Everybody around here (except the police who don't seem to bother enforcing many local traffic and parking ordinances) knows that ATVs aren't allowed on city streets. This guy simply shouldn't have been joy riding here. I'm sure he didn't set out on his ride that evening thinking, "Here I go!" Yet, there he went into that good night, in spite of having worn a helmet while he was illegally touring the city. If you don't have the resources to get yourself a trailer to transport your fun, street illegal, little riding toy out into the woods so you can ride it there, don't buy the toy in the first place, and when you ride around the city and skin your knee or take your head off, don't come crying to me because I won't give you any public sympathy though I'll bow my head respectfully at your untimely passing quietly and in private, and whisper the age old words of the Requiem - "Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord..."


Baron's Life said...

Fully agree with you mate.
A drunk taking his own life by way of stupidity is one thing, but when they cause more grief by accidentally taking the life of I wanna go to war...!!!
Blessed be he in Heaven...Oh Lord!

Anonymous said...

Like you Joe, I find these "shrines" to be sad reminders. I often wonder how often they represent teenagers...yeeesh.

irondad said...

I, too, feel the loss of human life. Which is why I teach motorcycle safety classes, I guess. I also believe in cleansing the gene pool.

What bothers me is the proliferation of all these roadside "shrines" and how quickly they spring up. Have we become a nation of professional mourners? Or is it the attitude that seems to pervade so many young people these days? The attitude that if a whole bunch of people didn't see it someplace like Facebook it really didn't happen?

Then there's the affect on everyone who has to drive by and see it everyday. It seems selfish to impose that on strangers when, as you say, it was the person's stupidity that got them killed in the first place.

We're living in an "interesting" society these days.