“Tragedy defines community when grief is immense.” I am not really sure who said this, but it rings so true. September has been a hard month for Kentucky. The first week was marked with incredible tragedy. On August 27th, early Sunday morning, ComAir Flight 5191 and 49 of the 50 passengers met a horrible end not even 2 minutes after take-off. The flight left the Bluegrass Airport, which is in Lexington, on the wrong, too-short runway, and crashed into the surrounding wooded area, causing a horrible explosion, where the sole survivor was the co-pilot. The heart breaking stories of those lost covered every free spot in the local paper for 9 straight days. Stories like the one of the mother and her 16 year old daughter. The mother got bumped from the flight and literally watched as she lost her child. Or the story of the former UK baseball player and his bride of less than 14 hours heading off for their dream honeymoon. Or the two couples both on their way to destination weddings. An aunt going to visit young niece and newphews, a father heading home after a buisness trip….the stories, the lives, the heartache…immense.
While our community was still stunned by this terrible loss, not even 24 hours later, a smaller private jet crashed two counties away. This flight, all 9 on board lost their lives. And then again, almost a week to date, a single engine plane was seen going down two counties away. The pilot did not survive.
Horrific events. Freak accidents. One in a million chance of tragedy…three times in a row. Our city, our state, this community, is shaken, ready to crack. So what defines us now?
Five years ago I watched the community of our nation be formed in fear after the events of 9/11, and that way that has since formed our reactions. I was amazed, though not totally surprised, as the events were unfolding folding a few weeks ago from the crash of Flight 5191, that the first reactions I heard out of most people, and even the media, was the question of terrorism!! Is that really what we have become? A nation that points the finger of blame and cowers in fear? Mistakes still happen, even after an event of terrorism. We shouldn’t be left living our lives in fear of the “What ifs” and “It could happens.”
So I have been watching my community forming around these past two weeks’ events. I was praying for community to form in hope and compassion, not fear. And I have witnessed just that. The names and faces of those lost are now ingrained in our hearts and minds; their stories, their lives, their loss, are now are part of the story and the life and the loss of this community.