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What can you do in honor?


   The nation, state of Oregon, our community, and a family put to rest a hero Saturday.
   We all came to know Tommy Tucker these past two weeks, and many of us came to know war in a new, ugly, real way. Without a draft threatening and uniting nearly every family in our country as it once did, too many of us have become too distant from the horror of war, too protected from it, too busy to be concerned by it. Shame on us. May we never again forget that war, first and foremost, means people dying.
   As the days of this heartbreak unfolded, it was impossible not to be impressed by the grace, bravery and class the Tuckers presented the nation. You folks honor our community. Only those who've lost their children can know, but I can imagine that the Tuckers face a future in which no day will ever be as great as it could be. But that doesn't mean there can't still be great days. May the Tuckers' grief soon meld into peace and contentment, followed rapidly by joy's return.
   This community hadn't been galvanized by war's tragedy in this way since World War II, when several local men were held captive in prison camps. Prior to Tommy Tucker, Madras's most heralded soldier was Jacob DeShazer, a veteran of the dangerous Doolittle Raids at the outset of World War II. DeShazer was captured in China and spent roughly three years in a Japanese prison, daily struggling to survive. But survive he did, and returned to a hero's welcome.
   While facing death in that prison camp, DeShazer made a deal with God: get me through and I'll dedicate my life to you. DeShazer held up his part of the deal, eventually becoming a missionary, focusing his efforts on, of all places, Japan.
   Thomas Tucker wasn't granted any such deal. Maybe the deal is for us to take -- those of us who enjoy our freedom, blessed to live here in comfort in one of the best pockets of the world. What do we do to give back, to pay for the freedom and rich lives we're provided? Here's the deal: step up, improve, become a better citizen, volunteer, help a neighbor, be a contributor instead of a complainer. Use the memory of Tommy Tucker's service and sacrifice as inspiration to become better, period.