Patriot Park

I didn’t know SFC Daniel Lightner. Feel like I should, though because I pass by this lovely, small, intimate park nine months out of the year on my way to work. Patriot Park is dedicated to his ultimate sacrifice.

The road around this park is a one-way roundabout with a few off roads to surrounding neighborhoods. In the middle of the park is a gazebo where I seldom see anyone taking advantage of the respite opportunity… including me. If truth be told, during the years I’ve hastily driven by, I never knew this knoll was dedicated to young Mr. Lightner. Shame on me. Really, this is on me for never stopping. My hometown and I never knew. I’m sorry, Daniel.

Ironic that this roundabout is one-way because today I found another way forward. A small way, but another, different way.

We see so many “one ways” in our lives. It’s almost always us – our responsibility … not our parents, teachers, spouse, friends, situations, jobs, kids, finances, politics, etc.. it’s how we see the road we’re on. How easy it is to look back and respond negatively to something, or someone, else as an answer to the challenges in our lives. Look, I do know things happen. I’m not pushing the unexpected aside. Those are the detours. It’s how we “see” that new road I’m writing about.

What struck me today is the one-way road Daniel didn’t know he was on when deployed. He didn’t know there would be a small park one day dedicated to his sacrifice … a park with a one-way road circling the same.

What’s unique, however, is our ability to walk around this park in any direction we want. We are not limited to only the one-way road. We can take our shoes off, feel the grass in our toes, walk a few paces to the east, stop, sit, and reflect. Maybe think about Daniel. Think about his one-way trip back home not knowing. Not knowing he made a man stop for a few minutes – fouteen years later – to think about his life.

And, possibly, help others think about the many different ways roads may be travelled.

That’s a true patriot, SFC Daniel Lightner. Rest in peace, my friend.

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