Because Life with Kids is Sticky...Very Sticky

Lucy Mercer

Lucy Mercer
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
December 31
I cook, I write, I carpool. You may also find my words at A Cook and Her Books. Email acookandherbooks@gmail.com. Thanks for visiting!


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OCTOBER 21, 2011 9:43AM

Honoring a fallen hero

Rate: 11 Flag


Photo by Lucy Mercer

This story isn't about food or books, but just a glimpse into the town and times I live in. I brought my camera along yesterday as our county honored a fallen hero.

My small town was covered up in the American flag Thursday. It was not the 4th of July, not Labor Day, Memorial Day or Veterans Day, or any of the traditional days when there might be a parade downtown and folks young and old wave Old Glory. This was a parade of a kind, but a somber occasion - a young Marine from my hometown was killed in Afghanistan last week and his body was brought home. The motorcade from the airport to the funeral home made its way through the heart of the county, the roads lined on either side with businessmen and women, children, veterans, retirees, schoolchildren. 

The Marine is Lance Corporal Scott D. Harper, nicknamed Boots, and he was 21 years old. On my way to downtown, I drove along the same route as the motorcade and watched the power company place a flag over the highway. I took this picture from inside my car:


Photo by Lucy Mercer

 According to the obituary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Harper was everyone’s friend in high school, played four years on the golf team, and he really liked boots. His last phone conversation with his dad involved sending a new pair of boots to him in Afghanistan. Along the motorcade route, men placed boots on their truck to honor him.


Photo by Lucy Mercer.

 The school where Harper spent his first grade year was along the route and the schoolchildren lined up to watch the motorcade. In the city, volunteers handed out flags and office workers came out to watch. The motorcade began with a dozen officers on motorcycles, and another dozen vehicles, blue lights flashing, representing local law enforcement. Then there was the hearse and the cars with the family members, some of whom looked out the car windows, as amazed as we were that so many citizens came out on a cold autumn day to honor this young man. 

Motorcade along Church Street. Photo by Lucy Mercer.

Behind the hearse were at least 100 motorcycles representing the Patriot Guard Riders who protect the family members (with the permission of the family) from protesting groups such as Westboro Baptist of Kansas. Westboro was not present for the motorcade, but has stated on its website that it will protest at the funeral on Sunday. The Patriot Guard and our sheriff have vowed to keep them away from the family and funeral.


Patriot Guard Riders. Lucy Mercer


Patriot Guard Riders. Lucy Mercer

Like everyone else who watched the motorcade, waving flags and wiping tears, my thoughts and prayers are with this young man’s family and friends. They are grieving the loss of a son, a grandson, a brother, a friend. I don’t know the family directly, other than names that are familiar from living in the same town that I graduated high school. I do know that it was important to me and to my community to come together to remember this young man and to let his family know how thankful we are for his service.


Boy with flag. Lucy Mercer


Flags on the square. Lucy Mercer.

 Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.

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This is so tragic.. I have tears coming down my face.,
Thank you for this.
Thanks for reading, Linda. Very few dry eyes yesterday. Heavy hearts, too.
This is incredible--that so many would come out to honor one man's sacrifice says so much about the community you live in. Thank you for sharing this. My heart goes out to you and your community.
Thank you. The flag at my school flies at half-staff far, far too often.
Absolutely gorgeous demonstration of love and respect. This was a deeply moving piece of writing.
The Iraq war is supposed to end on Dec 31 this year. I wonder when we'll end the Afghan one.
Thanks for posting this. I always wonder about those young people who die in the service--whether they knew what they were getting themselves into, the horrors they must have witnessed in their final days. Even though you didn't know his family, I'm sure they're glad to have your support on this difficult day.
A stirring tribute, Lucy, the photos and your words.
This makes the human connection for a larger cause that lost its way years ago Lucy. Why is Westboro protesting?
The fact of the matter is that this young man volunteered to be part of an occupying force. He was part of an imperial army. He invaded another country and his intent was to kill people in a foreign land for the benefit of his corporate benefactors. I'm sure the imperial armies of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union mourned their losses as well, as they plundered and pillaged. So it is with America.

This may seem harsh, but until we stop celebrating and lionizing our imperial actions in support of the American Empire, things will not change. We need to work for a day where young men like this no longer have to even consider sacrificing themselves on the alter of imperialism. What a waste. Everyone should be ashamed for what we have done.

Now go out and speak up against our immoral wars and make them end so we don't needlessly lose one more person and we don't take the lives of so many innocent people abroad. Silence is complicity. It is also cowardly.
I guess I don't understand how you can be proud of your country when it sent a young man off to die in an illegal war manufactured by billionaires and their bought-and-paid-for politicians to enrich themselves further by war profiteering and oil deals. Many, many thousands of Iraqi civilians have died as well. I guess there won't be any flags flying at half mast for them. I feel for this young man and his family, but I cannot condone the greed and cynicism that caused his death in the false name of "patriotism."
It is moving to see how everyone came together to honor this soldier. Reading this I felt so many things: sadness, joy at the sense of support within the community, righteous pride and happiness that the Patriot Guard Riders exist - and also anger at the futility of war. Another kind young man dead - I wish they'd all just refuse to fight. Then where would our leaders be, without their cannon fodder?

Whatever the case, may "Boots" rest in peace.
Hi Lucy. I've actually done a post on Westboro. Maybe I should have been reading between the lines here.
What a terribly sad story. The picture of the boots on the truck really got to me.
Bless your heart for sharing these home town heros and making your community proud.