Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Pride is no casualty in loss of Butler

April 16, 2003

Although the war in Iraq is winding down, it was still very real in Wellsville Monday when Sgt. Jake Butler, the first Kansan killed in the conflict, was buried with full military honors.

Butler was killed at As Samawah, Iraq, on April 1 when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle. Butler was a calvary scout for the Army and had been stationed in Fort Riley. He saw several different tours in Kuwait prior to the war. On March 2, Butler advanced into Iraq with his unit, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

A month later, he gave his life for his country. We can all be proud of what the Wellsville High School graduate did for us. But no one can be as proud as his parents.

"We were proud to have Jake as a son, but we were even prouder he served in the military," his father, James, said after the burial service Monday in Wellsville Cemetery.

I can only imagine what the Butlers are feeling now. Of course there is no greater loss than a child. But they are remaining proud, as evident by the sign in their yard north of Wellsville that reads "Jake died for our freedom."

There was understandably a lot of pride shown in Wellsville Monday. The closed funeral service at the Wellsville Baptist Church was for friends, family, soldiers and neighbors. A group of six Fort Riley soldiers stood in front of the sidewalk leading to the church.

American flags lined Main Street. Most businesses closed for the funeral, which was from 10-11:30 a.m. The American Legion also did its part in many ways to mark the event.

Town residents and school children stood along the streets waving flags as the funeral procession passed through. More than 200 people attended the burial services, which included a 21-gun salute and the playing of "Taps."

It was all a fitting tribute to the young man who gave his all for his country. Being this close and with Baldwin High School graduates serving in the war as well, we all know the war really does hit home.

There are various memorials set up for the Butlers and they're listed in his obituary elsewhere in the Signal. Locally there's a fund set up through the Baker University maintenance office where contributions can be dropped off during the day. Butler's uncle, Robert Butler, works there. That, of course, ties it even closer to Baldwin.

We knew when the war started that there would be casualties. We also knew there would be young men and women from Baldwin City and the surrounding area involved.

So far, Butler has been the only one to pay the ultimate sacrifice. We can all be proud of him and we can also hope that will be enough loss from our area. Let's all keep the soldiers in our prayers until this is truly over.

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