Thursday, October 11, 2012

Heartfelt Thoughts from Tracey

As I prayed on what I would share in my first post, the topic became clear to me albeit it a difficult one. I want to share with you how one brave soldier brought out the best in my community and forever changed our lives.

This is Private Michael DeMarsico,just "Mike" to my son and the friends in his graduating class. It may be cliche, but he truly was a great kid from a large and loving Christian family.He joined the US Army as he always said he would and became proficient in detecting roadside explosion devices in Afganhistan. In August, we learned that his family's worst fears had come true. Mike was killed by a roadside bomb at only 20 years of age.

What followed in our city was an incredible wave of love and support for the family and drive to honor our hometown hero. As his body was escorted home, the streets of my town were lined with thousands, holding flags in their hands and respect in their hearts. I want to share with you an excerpt from the Facebook posting of the officer John LeClair, who escorted Mike home. Keep in mind,we live in a small city in the valley, only reached by mountain roads passing through even smaller towns.

"Today, I had the honor of escorting Pfc. Michael Demarsico, U.S. Army, home from Westover AFB, where he was flown from Dover AFB after being killed in action in Afghanistan on Aug. 16.

For those who turned out to welcome Michael back home along the route from Westover to the funeral home, I say thank you. It was an amazing tribute to such an amazing young man. You cannot understand the feeling of driving up to lone persons, small groups or thousands holding flags and signs in support of Michael and his family.

Some of you may have been only to see a little portion of the procession, but here are some things that will stay with me forever:

• The ceremony at Westover AFB when they moved Michael from the plane to the hearse. Shear, utter chills in 80 degree weather as the honor guard performed perfectly.

• The fire, police and EMS at every overpass along Route 91 who saluted and had flags displayed. The troopers working details who got out their cruisers and saluted as we passed.

•The lone women holding a flag, crying, saying thank you to us as she stood on the edge of the median at the Greenfield rotary just as we got off Route 91. I thought you are thanking us? No ma'am THANK YOU!

• As we drove around the rotary the huge, more than 1,000 person reception in Greenfield. Greenfield??? Oh my God what will North Adams be like? People lined three and four deep along the road, both sides, from Friendly's all the way past Home Depot. Greenfield fire, police; DEM Fire services, Montague, Franklin County sheriffs, too many to read, I can't keep up reading the little kids signs and the names on the emergency vehicles. Flags, flags, flags.

• Up to Shelburne and a sign on a store reads Our Hero Michael Demarsico. As we arrive in Shelburne we are greeted by police, fire and ems and then MSP on both sides of the road standing out of their cruisers saluting.

• An approximately 90-year-old man, dressed in what looked like a WWII Marine Corps era uniform, who stoodup slowly and obviously painfully, but saluted and held a flag as we passed.

• As we entered Charlemont the bridge crew who hung a flag from their crane over the road and then stood and took their hard hats off and placed them over their heart.

• A woman in her 70s who sprinted down her 200-foot driveway holding flag. She must have been standing in her window waiting for hours for us to pass. How did this woman in the middle of Charlemont know when we were coming?

• Throughout our drive over Route 2 cars travelling in the opposite direction pulled over stopped, got out their cars and saluted or placed their hands over their heart. N.Y., N.J., N.H., Wisc., how did they know? They were driving at 50 mph screech to a halt, and jump out to salute someone they don't know. When we stopped at Brown's Garage to unfurl the flags for the Patriot Guard, there were cars backed up for miles behind us. But not one passed the procession they all waited for 10 minutes…. RESPECT.

• As we got into Florida, more flags, flags over the road, the school children. The Hairpin Turn, Clarksburg police, fire, selectman.

• As we entered into North Adams I expected nothing less than the incredible turnout that this city would show to a hero ... a soldier ... a son. It was truly overwhelming from our perspective ... if you were there you were only able to see a portion ... "Proud to be an American" playing ... too many faces to focus and recognize, a blur.
For a cynical person like me seeing often only the bad things. Today, North Adams made me proud to call you my home. You saluted a hero ... in a way that will bring tears to my eyes every time I think about it."

Our pastor was requested to speak words of comfort at a candlelight gathering started by his friends. Our church was chosen to host the funeral. As our congregation prayed for strength and guidance in this emotional time, our Pastor reflected how earlier this year,we prayed earnestly for God to help us be a voice to the community and find a way to reach the younger generation. Because our church can only hold about 600, loudspeakers would broadcast the funeral to the hundreds lined outside our church. In the weeks following, many of Mike's high school friends,my son included, started attending church. My son accepted Jesus Christ as his savior shortly after.

Now, I wouldn't begin to simplify or pretend to understand or justify the reasons for this tragic loss of life. As a mother, my heart breaks for his mother. God's word does say that " we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. " Romans 8:28

All things..even awful,painful,devastating things for which we see no reason or purpose.

This is the last quote that Mike had posted on his Facebook page:

" Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

John 15:13


Sherri said...

I have no words Tracey. Truly. My eyes are welled with tears, and my skin crawls at the rawness of the emotion you were able to convey. What an honor to have been part of something so bittersweet. Thank you so, so much for sharing this wonderful story of human compassion, strength, and kindness with all of us.

Cara G said...

Beautiful, sad, precious story...thanks so much for sharing this with us!

Felicity Ives said...

I'm not sure I can type for the tears. This is truly a remarkable story of respect and honor, that is so sadly punctuated with the loss of a young man, a son, a brother, a friend. No loss of life can be justified, but I hope his family take solace in the outpouring of love and support shown by this community.

Scrapper Myra said...

It's so sad. And mixed feelings of pride, honor, respect, sadness, and more... are provoked by this story. Tks for making us do some reflexion.

Lisa H said...

Thank you for sharing this with us Tracey!

glorygirl said...

This is such a beautiful tribute - to the heroic young man, to the patriotic community behind him, to God alone, who can do beautiful things in the ugliest of circumstances. Thank you for sharing this!