By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel
I had two interesting messages Sunday. The first, on Facebook, proposed on the next day, Memorial Day, we stop all the nasty political commentary as a way to honor those men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.
I know part of our freedom is our political discourse and disagreement, but a day away from the divisiveness seemed to me a respectful thing to do. Besides, I don’t think anyone has ever been persuaded one way or another by anything printed on social media. Most of it just polarizes us into separate camps, and on Memorial Day we should come together.
The second was a telephone call from Saugatuck Township Fire District Chief Greg Janik updating me on a young girl who has been close to our community’s hearts for the past few months. It was good news.
Avery Betts was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor some months ago and prospects looked bleak. Fortunately, a hospital and medical staff in Georgia had seen this type of cancer before and offered procedures that had a very good chance of success. A prolonged stay in Georgia meant a tremendous upheaval for the family, and no end of logistical challenges.
That’s where our communities pulled together. Whether it was a cash donation, fundraiser, card or anything else, folks were committed to doing what they could. Word spread to area churches and prayers and petitions were offered on behalf of Avery and her family.
What you did helped save the child’s life. A long stay in Georgia — and there will be more visits to the hospital for a long time — achieved a medical miracle that could not have happened a decade ago. Avery is making a great comeback. She’s up and eating, regaining her strength, and smiling.
I saw her father just before the Saugatuck Memorial Day parade, and it was pure pleasure seeing a smile on Capt. Mike’s face.
It’s all your handiwork. As we always do here when someone needs a hand, we responded. When there is a challenge, we rise up to take it on. Even if we don’t always know the outcome, doing the right thing to the best of our ability is what matters.
We saw a lot of that pulling together on Memorial Day. There is nothing easy about putting together a parade and observance on a national holiday. It takes a lot of work, coordination, planning and following through to the end.
The lump-in-the-throat moment came at the end of the ceremony in Douglas when several elderly veterans from World War II and Korea were sitting together. Others were coming up to them to shake their hands or have a picture or two taken with them.
Those moments transcended everything else because it was a time for gratitude, remembering and looking forward.