These were just a few of the people on I-64 in southern Indiana on the
morning of January 13th, 2017. Not all of those on the road were in uniform,
but all had traveled out of state. They came from all corners of the United
States (and from Canada too, the Canadian Press said) and were traveling from
the western to the eastern United States—a distance of over one thousand
miles, with the majority headed west, on their way home to see loved ones and
to pay respects to those who lost their lives. They were there to say goodbye
to their fallen comrades—to honor their memory—and in doing so, to honor the
Americans who fought for their country when they had still been free. “The
road to liberty ends with those who have left it,” President John F. Kennedy
said. To the men and women in the truck, the road was also beginning. They
were there to say their final goodbyes. To leave behind the things that brought
them happiness and hope and to begin a new life. To begin a new life as free
people—to be equal in the eyes of the law, to be free to be equal in the eyes
of the law, to live in a free country where everyone is free, to walk where
everyone walks, to work where they work, and to love where they love. They
weren’t all there to pay tribute to the fallen. Some were there to see their
The funeral service had been underway at 9:30 am PST. It had been
postponed once before from February 10th. The memorial was not only delayed—it
was removed. The ceremony took place at 10:00 am. The president of the United
States’ first burial since his death nearly six years earlier took place at the
same time—on the same day. In the days leading up to the service, a small
group of visitors—family, friends, journalists, and the president’s
political opponent, Hillary Clinton—made their way to the cemetery and paid
their respects to George Huddleston Hough and his wife Elsie, the parents of
George H. Hough who lost their firstborn son, Daniel, to a landmine in Afghanistan
on February 11th, 2004—two years prior to the date of President Ronald Reagan’s
first funeral—in a little over a week’s time. The president had also attended
his daughter Jenna’s high school graduation in Indianapolis about a year
prior. His son, Theodore, was present at the ceremony in January when his father
received the Congressional Gold Medal—the first president to receive this
honor since George Washington.
All told, five presidents were buried this year. One man—a
thirteen-year-old boy—was also there to pay his respects to the fallen. His name
was Donald Trump and he was there at Fort Hood on September 2nd. He had just
finished high school, he says. He was a member of the National Honor Society
and president of the school’s drama club. Like President Trump, the other
deadly shooting victim was in high school, too. He was twenty-five, four years
shorter than Donald Trump is now. He had graduated from Purdue University in
2014—just months before the worst mass shooting in American history took
place. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and an active member
of the Drama Club. Like his brother, though, he had the misfortune of being at
the wrong place at the wrong time—twenty-five year old Andrew Craig, who lived
with his parents, his younger sister, and four other relatives, in a relatively
small house in the rural southwest corner of Indiana, on a country road
somewhere between Middletown and Kokomo.
On the morning of August 6th, Craig had made plans to buy some
gauge wire. He had been looking forward to it for a long time. In the course of
a typical day, he went to work, cleaned the house, and at night, cooked, fed,
and raised a family. Nothing too exciting. This was the way things were back in
his home state of Indiana. It was a simple life. Craig was a good person, he
said. He loved his children and his family. He just wanted to do everything he
could to see them healthy and happy. That night, as he watched cartoons and
dined on his birthday, his house suddenly filled with gunfire.
A single bullet pierced his chest, taking out not only his heart and liver,
but also the organ that would eventually take his place.
The first to die was Andrew Craig. His brother, Thomas, survived.
As Andrew was loaded into the ambulance, he said to his
brother, “Brother, don’t die.” He also said, “All my life,
I’ve been afraid to die and now all my life, I’m gonna die.”
Then Andrew was taken to the hospital, where doctors determined that he had no
heart to speak of, no left ventricle, no functioning lungs (the way a heart
works), and no pulse (the signal from an organ in the chest).
Andrew died while Andrew was being loaded into the ambulance.
Two and half hours after the end of the school’s second week of
“Spring Break”, a man called his younger brother to come and pick him up
from the gym, just like the day before, only to find out that he had died.
Four other people died. Three were wounded.
That night, people were mourning. They were grieving. Some were
crying. Others were angry. These people were all mourning. They were grieving.
Some were cursing. Some were comforting. Some were crying. Some were angry.
Some were comforting. Some were crying. Some were mourning. Some were
cursing. Some were comforting. Some were crying. Some were angering.