How many of us spent this past weekend building memories with our children? I had the pleasure of practicing baseball with my 12-year-old son on Saturday morning. I was in heaven while my 9-year-old daughter sat with me at Starbuck’s during our weekly bonding session.
She is adamant about preparing my coffee just right. She then proceeds to read me the differences in taste and boldness that describe each type of coffee in the Starbuck’s promotional book. How could life be any better?
These are the Norman Rockwell moments that I have been blessed with for some unknown reason. They are the reason that I thank God for loving wife and children every time I hit my knees, and I pray for guidance in being a good husband and father.
On Saturday night my thoughts were suddenly jolted by a sad reality. First Lieutenant Robert Collins of Tyrone was suddenly taken from us by an IED in Iraq. The name and the city immediately caught my attention because of another Collins that I know from that area.
Sharon Collins was the assistant principal at Spring Hill Elementary when my wife and I turned our children over to the Fayette County School System for the next 12 years of their lives. She was the one who comforted me on that tearful walk back to my car that first day of school (yes, dads get emotional with that), and she was there to greet them each morning with a smile.
As I was fortunate enough to create memories with my children on Saturday, Sharon Collins was preparing to bring home her son for the last time.
Sharon is more than an educator; she is a true friend. She and her husband are career military people, and she always takes the time to ask about my brother. He is also a career military officer with four tours to Iraq. Sharon helped to arrange a visit to the school for my brother and created a bond that he still remembers with fondness.
My brother said two things to me that suddenly helped me to realize that he is no longer my “little brother.” I once asked him if he was ever afraid to go into combat; he simply replied, “It’s my job.” I think the next thing that he said matured him in my eyes and helped me realize that these are very special people. He told me that “it is an honor to serve this country.”
Allow me to amend that statement: it is this country’s honor to have these soldiers serve us.
Robert graduated from Sandy Creek High School, graduated from West Point, and proudly served this country. It is an honor to have him as a soldier in our armed forces.
When Sharon spoke of her son’s accomplishments, she did exhibit pride as much as the honor that she had for being Robert’s mother.
Instead of being proud of our children, we should be honored that they have chosen the right paths that will influence others and make our society and country a better place.
My heart is hurting for the Collins family, and I hope that each of you show them your love and appreciation for the selfless act of serving our country.
Our soldiers, firefighters, and police officers will literally sacrifice their lives for people that they will never meet. I pray that we will never lose sight of that fact.
I am honored to live in a country that 1st Lt. Robert Collins supremely served. We will miss you.