I was walking my dog last week past our local cemetery when I saw a block of black granite behind the fence. The City of St. Helena put it there to honor our town's fallen soldiers. Having never seen it up close, I passed through the cemetery gates for a better look.
On its honed surface, I counted five wars and 28 names belonging to St. Helena men who had died in combat thousands of miles from home. Each war had its own column of names. Afghanistan, a war still in progress, had only one name:
Darrick, a Navy Seal, Petty Officer First Class, died in a helicopter crash in 2011 while helping an Army Ranger squad under attack. He was 28.
While I remembered reading about his death, seeing his name alone on that stone, made me long for knowledge of the person he'd been-not as soldier but in my community. I've lived in St. Helena for 15 years. There's a good chance I crossed paths with Darrick at the grocery store, local cinema or a football game.