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Thursday, September 20, 2007

DAY OF ATONEMENT 

Day of Atonement

I was thinking a bit yesterday about the coming Day of Atonement, and it’s applications for a Christian. As a Catholic, I can see some relationship with the sacrament of Reconciliation, but there are significant differences. It was then that I read an e-mail from Patrick, my youngest son, currently in Korea assigned to (deleted) AFB. It was just a short note, the kind he sends every two or three days. But in among the day to day items, was the following statement.

“Also found out today that my commendation medal from (deleted) AFB
went through. I should be presented the medal by the commander within a
few weeks, but am now authorized to wear the ribbon. It's certainly one
of the highest ranking medals an enlisted member can get without
actually being in combat, so I am very proud to earn it.

Things are well and I will be giving you and Mom a call sometime this
weekend and definitely in time for your birthday.”

Pretty matter of fact, and would not mean much if you did not know the story. Certainly not an item Patrick would brag about, other than to let me know his “ribbon rack” will have a new addition. Long story short, he was alone in the control tower when a potentially disastrous situation occurred involving two Air Force A-10’s, and a civilian aircraft. One of the A-10’s, and the civilian aircraft were both in distress, and there was a possibility of a mid air collision occurring within seconds, as well as one or the other distressed aircraft crashing if not landed quickly. Patrick’s quick thinking and his handling of the situation resulted in all three aircraft landing safely, without any injury to any of the occupants. By the way, none of these aircraft were assigned to Patrick’s base. There are details that he could not share with me, and some things I cannot share with you. But the story is riveting, with about 150 seconds of heart thumping suspense.

As a result, he was recommended for a special commendation, which was approved and will be awarded to him at his new assignment.

Back to the Day of Atonement. While I understand the purpose of the day, I do not feel I am in the proper frame of mind to truly behave in an appropriate manner. You see, I am in a state of pride. Not in myself, for I know that would be sinful, but in my son. He was responsible for saving the lives of three or more people. Those who have read my previous writings about my son know how I feel about him. But this award is illustrative of why I feel such pride. I believe I am justified in feeling this way, because whatever pride he feels is muted, and will no doubt pass, as have his thoughts about the many brave, ethical and loving things he has done in his life.

If I may offer a quote from the Torah, “He who saves one life is as if he saves the entire world.” I will think about my faults on another day. Today, I am enjoying the feelings that I have from raising such a son.

May you derive peace of mind and spirit on this day.


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