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May 27, 2016

Of Nature and Humankind, Similarities

Joe Charlebois

I was sitting in my car this week eating my lunch while facing a busy road. I was the first sunny and warm day in over a month. The wind was blowing and the clouds were moving by swiftly. As traffic passed by a small sparrow dove to close and was struck by an approaching truck.


I cringed. I watched as more vehicles passed hoping that he was just stunned. He didn’t move, so I was certain he was dead. As the draft from another vehicle flipped him over he sprung up. He stoop upright just near the double yellow lines of the four-lane road. He flapped his wings but was unable to take flight.


It was at this time I noticed approximately two dozen sparrows perched on a telephone line across the street. This clearly agitated the entire small flock. They beckoned to the injured bird.


Finally one sparrow in particular went to render its assistance to his brother. As he hopped up and down near the injured bird, he realized that he couldn’t help. He called for the others and was about to head back to them when he was struck by a car as well. He wouldn’t move again.


At this point the remaining flock descended on the road in an effort to help the two fallen birds, but the traffic made it impossible. The birds flew frantically in and out of the area several times. Then a third sparrow was hit and as the one before, he failed to move again. After attempting with all of their collective might to rescue their brothers, the flock left in despair. They flew up to a nearby tree realizing that they could not do anything further to help.


I suppose this scene is little different from thousands of similar scenes played out over the past 230 years in theatres of war where American soldiers, sailors and Marines have given the ultimate gift of service – their life – in order to save another’s.


In the growing history of America’s military, it is estimated that over 664,000 service members have lost their lives in combat and a total of over 1.3 million as a result of their actions during wartime. There are several instances in American history where men have gone above and beyond what was required of them.


On September 27, 1918, Ohio National Guard Second Lieutenant Albert E. Baesel, of Berea, Ohio, attempted to save one of his platoon’s squad leaders, who had fallen during battle near Ivoiry, France. 2d Lt. Baesel, upon hearing that one of his own corporals had been wounded near an enemy’s machine gun nest, sought the permission of superiors to rescue the corporal.  After two denials, he was reluctantly given the go ahead to proceed with the rescue attempt. After reaching the corporal, 2d Lt. Baesel lifted the corporal onto his shoulders and was immediately struck down by enemy fire killing him instantly. He would be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.


Our history is riddled with Medal of Honor awardees such as 2d Lt. Baesel. I’m sure there are thousands more who will never be awarded a medal for their valor because there was no one there to see their acts of selflessness, or, if they did witness such actions, it is possible that no one survived.


This weekend marks Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have passed in service to the United States of America. Our service members aren’t much different from the flock of sparrows that I witnessed this past Tuesday. They are all brothers and sisters. They all stand up for each other and at times will charge into harm’s way in order to save a fallen comrade.


God bless those who gave all.


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