By Shelley Powers
The cicadas have returned to Mississippi.
These red-eyed bug beasts come out of the ground every 13 years and hum incessantly from sun up to sun down for a solid month before they are no more for another 4,745 days.
Their singing is both captivating and bewitching, like the whir of a distant theremin creating the imagined futuristic sound of a flying saucer in an old sci-fi movie. But, this singing is also a reminder of how quickly time passes and how much living is squeezed into our short time here on Earth.
Thirteen years ago, I was 32 and not yet a home owner. Thirteen years was three jobs ago. It was before I had an e-mail address of my own. It was before I had a cell phone. It was oh so many pounds ago and, woe is me, so many wrinkles and gray hairs ago.
It was also more than 6,000 deaths of U.S. soldiers in combat ago.
The cicadas sing and time marches on, as do our soldiers into war.
I have never had a loved one die in combat. And, I am so sorry to say that all the fighting done by U.S. soldiers away from American soil since I can remember has become an amalgam of conflicts in the Middle East in my mind. As a matter of fact, when writing this, I had to look up information about what wars are still going on and what wars are over.
But, my ignorance doesn’t mean I am not thankful. I am. And more than thankful, I am grateful. I cannot begin to express the tremendous gratitude in my heart for all the men and women who have fought for my freedom and safety, who have gone to different and unfamiliar lands to put themselves in harm’s way for me, who have left their loved ones behind to fight for strangers, who have paid the ultimate price in service to this country.
And, while this Memorial Day Weekend focuses on remembering the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, I must extend my gratitude to those civil servant heroes who have given their lives for our safety here at home.
I am the great-niece of fallen Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol Trooper Hurfu Duckworth, who was gunned down in Hattiesburg August 19, 1959. I never met him, but I knew and loved his widow, my late Aunt Julie, and I have been told many times of his devotion to family and duty.
And just earlier this month, our state lost two Hattiesburg police officers, who were gunned down May 9 during a traffic stop. The story of officers Liquiori Tate and Benjamin Deen has reverberated around the nation, pulling us together during a time of scrutiny of our men and women in blue.
My pride for these police officers swelled even more when I heard the words of Officer Tate’s family, forgiving those who shot him and calling to the nation to come together and move away from violence.
Powerful words, especially in a time of such grief and sacrifice. I can’t help but think how the families of all who wear uniforms must feel the exact same way as the Tate family.
So, my wish this Memorial Day is for the families of those who have fallen to have peace. I pray they can forgive the evil of others and know what their sacrifice means to us all in the U.S. and around the world. And I also pray for all the men and women still fighting and giving of themselves to protect our freedom and safety. I pray for no injury to befall them. I pray they know how grateful we are for their service.
But mostly, I pray for each and every one of these heroes to be with those they love most when the cicadas next reemerge to sing us their enchanting song.
This article is dedicated to Ms. Kay Legg, a dear friend, who lost her husband, Johnny, in Vietnam.