Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Hometown

I live in a small town in Central Illinois. A town where you are known by which church you attend.  A town where you can’t do anything without your neighbor knowing about it.  A town that bonds together in good times and in bad.
Tremont United Methodist Church

Camo-Man and I moved here in 1996. We thought we’d live here for a couple of years and move back to the town where he grew up, but it's hard to move away from a small town full of people who care about you.

Over the years, I’ve had many moments of pride in this town. I've watched the people of our community come out to celebrate the start of summer at our annual Turkey Festival. The entire community volunteers to help make this festival a successful event - without a beer tent. 

Perdue's Bar & Grill
We support our local businesses. Why buy somewhere else if you can find a way to support your neighbor in their passion? Take for example, Perdue's Bar & Grill, a fantastic local restaurant owned & operated by residents of Tremont. Why drive out of town when you have a fantastic place to dine with your family and visit with friends all at the same time?

I've watched our community pull together to support families who are struggling with chronic illnesses. We've raised money for St. Jude Children's Hospital. We've lost kids to Neuroblastoma and Wilms Tumor. We've supported families who are fighting melanoma.

On Saturday, our community faced another tragedy. While traveling to a girls basketball tournament, one of our school buses was struck by another vehicle about 30 miles from our nice, small town. Relief ran rampant through the community as word spread about the accident and the fact that injuries were minimal. The worst injuries were a broken wrist for the bus driver, "Safety Stu", and some dental work for the team coach. Some of the players were transported to the hospital as a safety precaution, but overall our community felt blessed to have escaped with our youth safe.

The vehicle which struck the school bus did not fair as well. Fatalities were reported immediately and prayers were sent up throughout Central Illinois for the families who had just lost loved ones.

And then....
in a strange twist of cruel, sadistic irony...
we discovered the identities of those in the truck..
only to discover they were actually from our small, little town. 

The driver, Mike Honan, a senior at Tremont High School, was driving in the opposite direction of the bus when he presumably hit a slick spot on the highway, clipped the back of a semi-truck which forced him to cross the median crashing into the school bus. Mike and another THS senior, Celine Estes, were both killed upon impact. Two additional passengers were hospitalized in critical condition including Celine's older sister, Brianna Estes. 

A current of shock jolted through our community. Two seniors were now dead. A recent graduate in critical condition. Words cannot express the sadness and despair felt by everyone who knew these young people.

THIS is the tragedy which lives in the deepest recesses of our minds, the place we hope never to recognize. The thought of losing a child leaves you speechless and numb, or worse yet filled with the suffocating pain which never leaves your mind or body. 

Proud to be a Tremont Turk
I live in a town where you don't have to suffer through your pain alone. The outpouring of love and support for these families who have lost their children has been tremendous. Words will never ease their pain. Actions can never fix their broken hearts. All we can do is wrap them in love with the open arms of a community which remembers the potential these kids offered to their classmates, teachers, employers, friends and families. 

I ask that you all hug your children a little tighter today. Tell them how much they are loved and then say a prayer for the recovery of Brianna Estes, the youth of Tremont, IL as they deal with the loss of their friends, and especially for the families of Mike Honan and Celine Estes. 

1 comment:

  1. Well put, sending lots of prayers to that town, though I only lived there for 4 years, I still feel like part of that community, I have so many friends there and it will always have a special place in my heart.