News this week elicited an emotional roller coaster. Grief gave rise to pride, then pride morphed into grief.
It started last week, with the March 14 national student walkout. Hundreds of teens across the East End, hundreds of thousands of kids across the country, walked out of school to honor the 17 victims of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. Galvanized by horror, our children said, “Enough is Enough.”
In Hampton Bays, they solemnly read the names and ages of the victims. In East Hampton, half the school emptied out to pay homage and demand action.
We couldn’t be more proud. Whether one agrees with the demand for reasonable gun control laws — does anybody really need an AR-15? — respect must be paid for the youngsters’ conviction, their willingness to go out on a limb to protect the public’s safety and to urge, and even criticize, grownups charged with seeing them to adulthood. The arguments they offer in furtherance of their mission tells us they’re more than on the cusp of maturity.
Parkland grief morphed into East End pride.
Then, the news on Friday: a helicopter carrying brave personnel from the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing crashed on Thursday, killing four members of the local Rescue Wing, including a native son of Riverhead, Dashan Briggs.
Based at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, the 106th is a significant source of community pride. The group’s history is legendary. Their missions of rescue resonate, be they the heroic pararescuemen detailed in The Perfect Storm, or those who saved hundreds of flood victims in the wake of hurricanes in Texas, Puerto Rico, and Florida.
The ANG base is such a treasure to Long Islanders that when closure was considered several years ago, a battle cry erupted and we won. The Independent was proud to be among the leaders of that charge and, like our readers, we continue to puff with pride at the Rescue Wing’s courageous accomplishments.
On Friday, pride morphed into grief, with the news of the helicopter crash and the death of four members of the 106th.
And, again, whether one agrees with their mission overseas or not, respect must be paid for the selfless actions of our servicemen.