Memorial Day, the federal holiday to honor America’s service members killed in combat, comes as the family of Kansas Marine Capt. Chris Norgren prepares for his funeral.
Norgren, a 31-year-old pilot from Wichita, was one of six Marines and two members of the Nepalese Army who were killed this month when their helicopter went down in the mountains of Nepal. They were flying to a remote area of the Asian nation of Nepal to evacuate survivors of the deadly earthquakes that killed at least 8,500 people.
The humanitarian nature of Norgren’s last mission is poignant testimony not only of the risks of military service but of how much the world depends on a strong United States and its military. Nations look to us, whether for help in natural disasters or to combat extremists who threaten civilians and indeed a civilized society.
Norgren, like so many service members before him, put himself on the front lines.
It wasn’t as though he didn’t have choices. He was an aeronautical engineer who had worked at three aircraft companies in Wichita and been an assistant football coach at the high school from which he graduated.
At first confined to ground duty because of vision problems, Norgren became a pilot after corrective eye surgery.
“My son is my hero,” his mother, Terri Norgren, told reporters in Wichita. “He is with me now and he always will be.”
Such has been the refrain of loved ones over the centuries. The world benefits from the service of the U.S. military, but parents, spouses and loved ones at home bear the losses.
Memorial Day was set aside for all Americans to share in both the grief and the pride for brave men and women who have died in service to the nation.
They have earned our greatest respect.