Years ago, Johnny Cash did a song called The Big Battle where he talks about every shot fired having an echo. He talks of the battle yet to be fought in the hearts of mothers, brothers, sisters and daughters.
This came back to me Sunday night at 2330 as I was crossing Paine’s Prairie where not 20 hours earlier there was a wreck that killed 11 men, women and children and sent another 21 or so to the emergency room at Shands Hospital.
Yes, as I was traveling across the site of the wreckage, there was not a trace of the death and destruction as well as the drama and trauma that preceded it less than 20 hours earlier.
Did see a few silent sentinels that stood watch over the site in their squad cars prepared to shut down I-75 if there was a sudden repeat of the fog and smoke. Smoke did linger from the fire and I imagine the only reason I could smell it was because I was traveling on a motorcycle on my way back from Orlando.
However, that was not my first encounter with the accident. It occurred about 0430 and at 630 or so I was headed down I-75 towards Eustis to give a talk on Women and Children in the Jails and Prisons of the Nation. I was diverted by the highway patrol as the last exit prior to the accident which added an hour to my ride at 40 some degrees. Had no idea what had happened till that evening but there was no doubt it was big.
That evening in Orlando just prior to the dharma talk I was scheduled to give in Orlando, I was told about the accident. The full impact of the accident did not occur to me till about an hour away from the scene and then it sat in my mind like a haunting memory.
It was a haunting memory I experience every time I walk through the halls of the VA and see so many The Hollow Men. Yes, like Vietnam and oh so many other wars, the wreckage of the battlefields has been cleared away and the only visible remains are the the scenic tourist traps reminding us of tragedies gone by.
However, the horror and heart break will be carried in the hearts and minds of those who lost so much. That will be passed through generations in ways we would never recognize. Call it karma, culture or the echos of time. So many will go to bed alone at night with the ghosts of this and other tragedies gone by.
I guess the lesson is to be mindful of everything I say and do because it to will echo through time in some way, shape or form.