The death of any soldier before his or her time is sad and somewhat disturbing. It hits home that war is not quite as romantic as classic cinema makes it out to be. When a community loses one of its own to war, it affects everyone in some way.
My hometown of Chino Valley, Ariz., lost a soldier. Barett McNabb, 33, was killed in action in Kandahar. He was a sergeant first class, serving in the U.S. Army. Barett was only a couple of years younger than me.
Once I read the news of his death, I spent the longest time trying to remember if I went to school with him, because the name wasn’t ringing a bell with me. Turns out I had, which shook me up a little bit—not for the reasons you might think, however.
Chino Valley, when I was growing up, was a very small town. My graduating class was just under 100 students. Everybody knew everybody. While there were some in high school who didn’t particularly like me, I took pride in the fact that I knew most of the people I went to school with. Seeing Barett in my high school yearbook showed that there were a few students that flew under my radar.
However, one of my other classmates, Kris Mazy, remembered him well and was quoted quite a bit in the newspaper story I read today. One thing that made me smile is what Kris did after word of Barett’s death.
“Mazy spent this past Thursday morning driving around Chino Valley making sure businesses were flying flags at half-mast in accordance with Brewer’s order.
“She said that management at one local restaurant was not planning to do so, but after a quick call to the company’s corporate office, that was corrected.
“‘To me it’s just respectful to his family and to mine. They got it fixed right away,’ Mazy said.”
The reason this tickled me so much might not be obvious to the casual person who has never met Kris. She is a mother of five that homeschools her kids, runs a couple of businesses out of her home and occasionally fights the forces of evil within the government, especially on anything related to gun control or cacti outside the children’s room at the town library. For most other folks, spending a morning driving around town checking on flags would seem like one task too many. Not Kris, though.
When I read what she had done, I could just envision Kris pulling out her cell phone during lunch like a loaded pistol, dialing and telling the restaurant’s corporate stooges that she was none too pleased with their local affiliate’s anti-patriotic attitude and possibly vowing to tell her vast network of friends if the problem wasn’t rectified. Kris is an understanding person and open on a lot of issues, but once you cross her, she will rip your lips off and superglue them back on inside out.
After reading the story this morning, I still felt a little sad because I didn’t know Barett McNabb very well, and thanks to ongoing violence in the Middle East, I never will. However, I can take some solace in the fact that others remember him, and that at least one of those people is fiercely fighting to make sure that we pay the proper tribute to his sacrifice.