On September 28th, 2011, Chesterton, Indiana lost a son, to the war in Afghanistan. I'm not going to get off on a political rant here, most of you know my take on the war already. But this moment effected me in ways I never thought possible.
On Saturday, October 8, 2011, SPC Jim Butz was returned to Porter County. I really wanted to be along the procession route, to pay my respects, but being that I was heading out of town and relying on someone else for transportation, it wasn't in the cards. Or so I thought.
After a side trip to Albanese Candy Factory, we started heading out of town, via the road that runs along side the airport. And there I saw it. Countless First Responder vehicles, 250 motorcycles from the Indiana Patriot Guard....I asked my "driver" to please pull over. My heart had hit the ground at this point. I sat in the car for a few seconds, and just had this overwhelming need to get out. At this point, the roads were lined with people stopping to pay respect. There were a few that were "annoyed" that the road was closed, holding them up. I just wanted to yell "GO TO HELL" at them. But I didn't. I stood in silence, other than my weeping. Tears overcame my view. It was one of the most powerful, somber, sad, patriotic feelings I have ever experienced in my life. I wanted to run over and shake the hand of every single person in that procession. I wanted to hug his family.
I wish that I could have done more. I wish that I could have been dressed head to toe in American Flag attire. I wish I could have told them I was sorry for their loss, and thank them for their sacrifice. I couldn't. I just hope that they saw all of us, paying what respects we could, and find some comfort in that. In the fact that so many care.
I can never put in to words what I felt that day, standing on the side of the road. It's a wave of emotions that us, as humans, never expect to feel, never fathom we can feel.
R.I.P. SPC James Butz, 21, of Porter, Indiana, 2009 graduate of Chesterton High School. You gave your life to protect mine, and my families. There is no way I could ever begin to repay that. But I hope somewhere you are looking down and knowing that I really do mean it when I say thank you for all you gave. You died a hero, your honor will live on in all of us.