Our servicemen and women give much of themselves. Far more than most of us can imagine. The same can be said of the families and friends of our military personnel. Especially.....and I say this with the strongest tone I can, especially when there is a loss of life.
It's obvious what's given on the outside, but it's on the inside that few of us ever see. It's through these hurting times, that God uses people to provide proof that he is there. Let me give you an example:
From the Rockford Register Star (October 14, 2010)
The war in Afghanistan has struck close to home. Lance Cpl Alec E. Catherwood of Byron, Illinois was shot and killed Thursday by small-arms fire while conducting dismounted combat operations against enemy forces in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Catherwood, a 19-year old rifleman was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. He was the sixth Marine from the same unit to die in combat within 24 hours.
Catherwood, the son of Kirk and Gretchen Catherwood, was engaged to be married July 2, 2011 to Hailey Patrick of Davis Junction.
Patrick's mother, Christine, an employee of the Register Star, described him as "the kindest human being who ever walked the face of the earth".
As you read the last sentence......"the kindest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", it could very well cause you to stop for a moment.....maybe even choke down the lump in your throat......or wipe away a tear streaming down your cheek. My gosh. What a testament from a lady who was to be a future mother-in-law!!!
How will Alec be remembered? And how will his family and friends continue his "kind" fruits? Enter Project 52....a non-profit group that donates trees to families in memory of those who have left us far too early in life. Their mission statement, "planting seeds of hope, one tree at a time" intersected with the Catherwood clan's desire to further Alec's legacy . Last October, Project 52 traveled to Byron to honor the request of a memorial tree plant.
|A Tree of Hope|
"It was such an honor to plant a tree for Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood in Illinois", said Bill Clark co-founder of Project 52. "He was one of the first serviceman we planted a tree for". But the story doesn't end there......
A letter from Project 52 details the REST of the story.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Lopez found his calling as a U.S. Marine in his mid-twenties. His superiors noted his maturity, bravery and sense of duty. He was quickly given positions of responsibility-manning high-maintenance machine guns and defending his battalion from enemies who might sneak up from behind.
His family remembers him as a fun-loving guy with a soft spot for children, always smiling and spoiling his nieces and nephews. Longtime friends recall his ability to lift spirits no matter the situation.
Joseph served in Afghanistan alongside Alec Catherwood, a 2011 Trees to Remember honoree. The two young men were ambushed while coming to the aid of other soldiers who were pinned down by insurgents. Alec, 19, was shot and killed. Joseph stepped on an explosive device and died instantly. He was 26.
After receiving a memorial tree, Alec's family nominated Joseph's family to receive a tree as well.
This Wednesday (October 3rd) in Rosamond, California, Lance Cpl. Joseph Lopez will be honored with a tree planting at the Assembly of God Church at 5 p.m. "When the Catherwood family nominated a fellow platoon member, Lance Cpl. Lopez, we felt that Alec's family wanted to pass their honor and gratitude along", said Clark.
Where is God? Where was he that day Lance Cpl. Catherwood and Lance Cpl. Lopez were killed? He's right there, alongside us guiding us through the difficult times. And he's right there as we help others.
This Wednesday, the spirit, the kindness and the love Alec Catherwood exhibited, will be carried on. His family and friends saw to that. It will be interesting to see, who among the Lopez family and friends, God uses next....