Thursday, August 20, 2009

A powerful illustration of rural community

John Branch writes in today's New York Times of the aftermath of the shooting of a beloved football coach in Parkersburg, Iowa, population 1,889. The beloved, long-time coach, Ed Thomas, was shot by a former student, 24-year-old Mark Becker, in late June. But the Becker and Thomas families have been, as Branch puts it, "bonded by school, church and the communal raising of boys in this small town" for more than thirty years. The shooting hasn't changed that. On the evening of Mr. Thomas's death, his widow called Mark Becker's parents.

And a small-town murder, as unexpected and unexplained as any other, had its most important answer. A violent death cannot shatter a town if it does not divide friends.

Unlike the aftermath of so many other killings, where the focus shifts quickly to a cry for justice, the Thomas family has made empathy the overriding emotion in Parkersburg.
If Branch's story didn't use so many illustrations of just how the Thomas's have done that, I have to admit, I'd be skeptical myself.

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