Friday, October 28, 2005


That's what I thought yesterday afternoon when I tried getting off the highway after picking Kevin up from school due to early release.

I was going to take him to Burger King for lunch before heading to the babysitter's house. When we approached the exit for Burger King, traffic was backed up onto the highway. Uh oh... must be a wreck up there! How inconvenient! The next closest Burger King was past the babysitters house, so I would have to backtrack to get back to her house. Harrumph. But, I kept going, planning on taking the next exit and hitting the next Burger King.

Approaching the exit, I saw blue flashing lights, confirming my suspicion that there was a wreck blocking the exit ramp. But as I got up to the police car, I realized there was no wreck! He was simply parked there, blocking traffic from getting down the ramp. Then I noticed the helicopter. And the police car blocking the exit on the OTHER side of the highway. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE????

My mind raced. Is it a chemical leak? A SWAT incident? A fire? What could it be?? Traffic was only moving in one direction as I drove over the bridge. Then it hit me. I knew EXACTLY what was going on.

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USMC SSG Rick Pummill was being buried. This was his funeral procession. The guilt that overtook me after grumping about my "inconvenience" was embarrassing. I actually turned red. SSG Pummill was killed, along with two other Marines, on Oct. 20 when their Humvee was struck by an IED. Pummill had given up his cushy recruiting job for a combat assignment, arriving in country just three months ago. Now he is gone.

He left behind his 3 year old son, pictured above, stroking his father's casket. His wife, Chantal, was there to accept his Purple Heart and folded flag, presented to her "on behalf of a grateful nation". At the end of the service, Marines released a flock of white doves representing the peace and freedom SSG. Pummill dedicated his life to.

Fly free, SSG. We'll see you on the other side. We are, indeed, a grateful nation.


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