Letter: With honor and thanksOn Nov. 3 my husband and I learned our best friends’ son, James Tilson, was killed in an accident in Pierce County.
By: Heather Maack, Sandstone, Minn., River Falls Journal
On Nov. 3 my husband and I learned our best friends’ son, James Tilson, was killed in an accident in Pierce County.
The shock was compounded by the fact James was 19.
He had made specialist in the Guard and was anticipating going for his sergeant stripes. He planned to volunteer for peace-keeping missions.
James was as close to a son as could be. Having shared a friendship with his parents since he was a toddler, James was family.
James’ visitation began with a tribute by fellow guardsmen and superiors filling the funeral home. Here, James lay handsomely, donning his dress greens and ribbons. One might have heard a pin drop during a moment of impromptu silence.
The soldiers then offered James a final slow salute followed by guard duty at the head and foot of his casket.
It was the most moving ceremony I ever witnessed. The surge of pride surpassed tears.
Standing at a distance at the end of the evening, we watched as James’ parents made their way to him. The lights seemed dimmer and yet highlighted James. Time momentarily stopped.
James’ father grasped James’ hands as he placed his other hand on James’ chest. He stood quietly then bent and kissed James’ forehead.
With an arm around his wife’s waist, she stepped ahead. Tenderly, she ran her hand down James’ face, a gesture obviously full of motherly pride.
Slowly and deliberately, she bent to offer her baby, her son, her soldier, one last goodnight kiss.
Tears I had tried to hold back for my friends’ sakes now cascaded down...for their pain, for their insufferable loss, for their unselfishness in giving us the chance to love their child as our own.
Rest in peace, son, rest in peace.