Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Candlelight Vigil

Unfortunately it's become all to common place to hear about candlelight vigils in Wisconsin. Specifically over the last several weeks in Fond du Lac. Four high school students have lost their lives in two seperate traffic accidents. One continues battling for her life and another was seriously injured.

I attended the candlelight vigil for 16-year-old Candy Holstein at Fond du Lac's Veterans Park. Several hundred area residents were there, mostly in Candy's age bracket. At first a few pictures were propped up on a large planter in the middle of the park. Soon there were mementos and flowers piling up. It really stinks that these are the kind of tributes her family will have to remember instead of the other milestones that accumulate over a regular lifetime.

So it also goes for the lives of Peng Thao, Fue Vang and Jerry Vang who were killed in an accident several weeks before. I didn't attend that vigil, but thanks to the church where it was held got an audio copy and was able to hear the stories and grief that friends and relatives shared at that vigil. Really when your 16 or even 18 years old a funny story about working at KFC or McDonald's is the kind of story you should be sharing with friends at school or just hanging out. Certainly not at a candlelight vigil, visitation or a funeral.

The stories I've heard behind the scenes about how close other kids were to grabbing rides with the victims in those two accidents would make your hair curl. Or how about returning to school after one funeral to sit next to an empty seat that should be occupied by a 16-year-old girl who can't be there because she was killed in another car accident that weekend. And how would you feel to be sharing a locker with one of those unfortunate four?

I was lucky when I was in high school. The closest I came to losing a classmate in a car crash was a guy I played football with. One of my sisters had a crush on him. He sported scars at graduation. My Mom on the other hand was not as lucky. A car load of kids ran her older and youngest brother off a rural road one night. My Uncle Jack, who I never knew, was killed. My Uncle Jimmy was left with a permanent hearing disability. He walked a long ways to get help. My Mom suspects she probably has seen those responsible hundred of times over the years, but they never owned up to it. My Dad's older brother was walking along a road when he was hit and killed by a hit and run driver. One of his shoes ended up in the rain gutter of an adjacent home.

It's sudden, it's violent and then it's over. Unlike the gear shift in your car, there is no reverse.

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