Standing on the Street

Today, Daniel and I stood on the street. I realize that this phrase sounds funny, but it is exactly what we did. We were not alone, however, nor were we doing anything bad; in fact, we were showing support. See, a soldier from here on the Upper Cumberland died while in Afghanistan. They were bringing his body home and residents of his hometown were supporting his family and thanking him for his service. The entire street had flags stuck in the ground, near the sidewalks. Businesses on the processional route flew flags at half-mast; many also displayed posters of support. Kroger’s even blew up red, white, and blue Kroger balloons. Nearly every marquee on the road had the same saying:

Remembering Our Hometown Hero: Alex Van Aalten 

I did not know him, nor do I know his family. I heard that he went to our church, but with him serving his tour in Afghanistan and our church being so large, I did not have the privilege of meeting him; but something made me want to go and stand there on the road for support. I am not sure how this shows support, but it was all I knew to do. As the cop cars flashed their lights and people held out their own flags, the white hearse began to come into sight; you could hear a pin drop. As I fought back tears, I looked around and saw that others were not holding them back, they were letting them fall without shame. I wondered if they knew him or if they were just attempting to show support, like me. After the last emergency vehicle passed the bystanders, everyone began to make his or her way back to the daily routine. As I loaded Daniel into his carseat, I continued my prayers for the Van Aalten family, along with prayers for all those I know in military service, plus those that I don’t know. As I drove away, I saw an electronic billboard with a screen dedicated to this soldier. It showed his picture and I noticed that he look so young. The screen changed and it had his picture again, along with his birth and death years 1985-2007. He’s younger than me. He leaves behind a wife. My heart goes out to her. I could not imagine losing my husband, especially in such a tragic way.This experience really puts some things into perspective.

I Googled his name to get a bit more information and I read a few lines that struck me:

“He loved serving his country,” she said. “He just was a really good
person. He loved being in the Army. He believed in what he was doing.”

“He was a real soldier,” his mother recalled. “He believed in his country and he believed in God.”

June would have marked his third year in the Army, and two weeks ago,
Van Aalten signed up to serve for another six years, his mother said.

Praise God for amazing men and women like him. Praise God that Sgt. Van Aalten knows Him as Savior. May God continue to keep all the soldiers safe……but if another amazing soldier falls, may the community come out, stand on the streets, and cover the soldier’s family with prayers as they attempt to heal from their loss.


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