Yesterday, my daughters and I took part in saying goodbye to one of my former students who died defending our country. Senior Airman Bradley Smith from Troy, IL died from the result of a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on January 3. He left behind a wife and a 3 month old daughter as well as his parents, brother, and many many other family members and friends. You can read an article about him here.
I had Brad in geometry class when he was a sophomore at Triad High School. He graduated in 2004 and honestly, the Class of 2004 has been one of my favorite classes to come through THS in my 11 years there. I remember him as being fun-loving and getting along with just about everyone. He had a great personality and liked to joke with me and other students. He was always smiling. It seemed like it would take a lot to get Brad down. One time when I did see him down was when he met me at the top of the stairs one Monday morning (3/17/03 to be exact) to give me the sad news of another man who had passed away. The man who had died had been a classmate of mine during my school years and was a friend of Brad's through church. Brad knew that I would want to know about this man's passing and he especially met me that morning to give me this news. Brad was a great kid.
The Triad School District is composed of students who live in one of three towns. Most of these students live in Troy, as Troy is about 10 times larger than either of the other two towns. Our three towns, however, are tied together by the school system. Because of that, the other two smaller towns, as well as Brad's hometown of Troy, came out in support of his homecoming yesterday. These pictures were taken while B1, B2, and I stood with other people from our small town and watched the processional pass by.
Firefighters and the emergency truck
B1 and B2 waiting.....
Other folks waiting.....
Coming across the bridge.....
and down the road.
Some of the other vehicles in the procession
This is what living in a small town is all about. We honor each other and help each other during occasions such as these. Last night, on our way to St. Louis, my family and I drove through Troy. The American flags still lined the roads and on many of the business signs in town, messages were written about Brad or his family. It is very sad and touching, yet really makes me feel proud to be an American and proud to say that I knew him. I will continue to pray for his soul and for his family.
There was an article in this morning's newspaper which can be read here. Ths article talks not only about Brad, but about the processional yesterday afternoon.
There is also a video which I believe one of the local firemen put together. It is about 12 minutes long and very moving. Click below to watch; it's worth your time.
Goodbye, Brad. You will be missed. Thank you for what you did for all of us.