It is with great sadness that I have to report the loss of a fine young man, Daniel Bartle. USMC Csptain Bartle died in a helicopter crash along with five fellow Marines in Afghanistan. Mechanical failure is suspected as the cause of the crash. Daniel was 27 years old.
He was a fine person, a proud American, and an accomplished pilot. Diane and I remember him as a young boy, around the same age as our grandson is now, as one of our day care kids. Our memories of young Daniel are filled with smiles, but today our hearts are heavy.
John and Sandy, we cannot know the depth of your loss, but we share in it. War is tragedy, we all know that, but today that tragedy has come home to us. It makes all the rest seem unimportant.
W. H. Auden wrote:
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song:
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the word;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
At least, that’s how it feels. God Bless you, Daniel, and bring you Peace, and may you be there to guide us home when our turns come.
And this one, from me to you:
Life goes on.
The living prepare
Their Sunday snacks
For armchair football
The snow needs plowing,
My grandson needs my help
Building Duplo towers
Just to knock them down.
The trees drop wet burdens
Like small avalanches
Right where I need to be,
And all I can think about
Is a helicopter crashing
A million miles away
That took from us a young man
I’ve known since he was
My grandson’s age.
The game has lost its thrill today,
The score is unimportant.
The film is not that funny;
The comedy falls flat.
I cannot taste the food;
Even odes to joy ring bitter
For a while life will have to go on
With me on the sidelines, sobbing.