Sixteen. That’s the number of men from Genesee County who have lost their life serving in the wars being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan these past 10 years.
As I took count Tuesday, seeing the names and short biographies on each of the men who have died from here on a website, I found it hard not to want to cry. It becomes so much more real when you can put faces with names. Some of the pictures show them candidly laughing, horsing around with friends or, in one photo, the late soldier is shown wearing his camos and holding a puppy — a boyish twinkle in his eyes like he’d just gotten his first pet as a child.
Last week, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Nicholas Sprovtsoff of Davison became the 17th Genesee County soldier to die in the War on Terror. The news hit hard in Davison who, until this casualty, had not suffered the loss of one of its own in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Reading about the loss or seeing it on television just doesn’t give you the full understanding of what it means to those who knew and loved the soldier who has died. We see it on the news and while its sad, its just another unfortunate story. You read it or hear it, you take a moment to reflect, and you move on.
But when it happens to someone who lives or lived in your community — went to the same school or church you attend, walked the same streets and frequented the same businesses you do — you start to realize the war has come home.
I consider myself to have been fortunate to talk to some of the people who knew Nicholas this week. Teachers who recalled him as “the little redheaded kid” who used to hang around the tennis court while his sister practiced. The school administrator who remembered him pulling a lawn mower around behind his bike when he was a teenager, trying to save money to buy a truck.
I wish I could have met him, that I could have met all of them who have been lost in these wars, because to me they are true American heroes. Don’t let it be said our children don’t have heroes to look up to
— we have plenty of them serving in the
Armed Forces, protecting this country.
We owe Nick Sprovtsoff, and everyone else who has given their life serving this country, our gratitude. Each has made the ultimate sacrifice and I personally thank each and every one of them.
That said, I also hope our government looks at these sacrifices and will do what is necessary to end these wars and bring our boys and girls home. A lot of good people have died, a lot of Nick Sprovtsoffs who have left behind spouses and children, mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers and friends.
I for one will be glad when these wars have ended and our soldiers can return home, out of harms way, and back to their families so they can resume their lives and not have to worry every day if the next patrol they are sent on is going to be their last.
There will be a candlelight vigil for Sprovtsoff at the Davison City Hall, 200 E. Flint St., at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 9. Please come and show your support.