Sorting through the tragedies

Published 9:28 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

It has been an odd stretch these last several days. Our community is one that remains — by and large — quiet. We see tragedy. But we don’t see it in the volumes experienced by most other places. For that, we can be most thankful.

But, these last several days, they’ve been abnormal at the least.

Friday, April 24, our community was taken aback by the plane crash that took the life of 61-year-old Mark E. Keeley.

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It was an event whose very occurrence showed us the brevity of life and the prevailing altruism of the human spirit.

Keeley was out doing something he loved to do, flying his plane. Approximately 15 minutes after his small aircraft pulled off the ground, it returned violently to the earth, claiming Keeley’s life in the process.

A group of John Essex High students were doing what they normally do on Spring days. They were in class.

They were thinking about the weekend. They were counting down the days until the final bell of the semester.

They weren’t expecting a plane to plummet from the sky and onto their campus any more than Keeley was.

But it happened. And rather than stand by aimlessly and watch, they — along with their coach and teacher Rodney Dixon — acted in the best way available to them.

They had no way of knowing whether or not they would be able to save Keeley, but they continued until authorities arrived to take over the job of dousing the flames.

Their actions are indicative of an inherent devotion to propriety, to right, to doing good for the sake of good.

Amid the event that would claim the life of one, more than 15 others would experience firsthand previously unknown depths of their character and capabilities.

Their efforts may not have saved the life of Mark E. Keeley, but it is doubtless that they played a part in redirecting several others.

Now, less than a week removed from the crash, tragedy hit in Marengo County again. A car accident just South of Linden claimed the life of a fifth-grade Sweet Water student.

She, like Keeley, wasn’t doing anything abnormal. It was Friday.

She was headed for school. It was just another day.

It is virtually impossible to make sense of such situations.

The best that we can do is to appreciate the less-than-subtle reminders contained therein.

Appreciate each day as time is fleeting and the end comes suddenly and indiscriminately to retirees and even fifth-graders.