Emotional week in LOU community

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, August 18, 2016

What a range of emotions this week has been.

First, Oxonians watched Saturday night as one of our own led the pack of pole vaulters at the Rio Summer Olympic Games. Sam Kendricks jumped higher than all the competitors in the first round of the pole vault competition and we all woke Sunday morning eager to see the former Ole Miss standout outdistance his foes in the finals Monday night.

But that mood changed quickly around noon Sunday.

Email newsletter signup

I was having lunch with friends when the text came across about a reported plane crash with possible Oxford residents on board. By the time I made it into the EAGLE office, our worst fears were true. There had been a plane crash and all on the flight — six young, well-respected members of our community — were gone, leaving behind 11 children between them.

It was unfathomable. It still is five days later. How could this possibly happen? Why?

The thought and reality of this has crushed my heart, as I’m sure it has for most of you.

While working this tragic story Sunday, I learned from my family that several extended family members in Louisiana were dealing with flood issues that had driven many of them from their homes, which were taking in water. Some of my cousins had evacuated to my parents’ home in south Mississippi.

So many emotions, from elation to devastation.

These tragedies have not affected me personally or directly, but I know there are thousands who have been impacted in some way and I know many of those individuals. How do they cope? But more importantly, how do the children cope with such tragedy?

I don’t know anyone who has the answer as to why such a devastating event has taken place in our community.

EAGLE publisher David Magee said it best Sunday night with his column asking the community to pray for the children who are directly involved in this tragedy. His words certainly struck a chord with me and so many others about how we can rally around these children and their families.

The best of our community was shown with the prayer vigil in the Grove on Monday; to see so many young people gathering together to pray for their classmates and for each other was inspiring.

Just a few hours later, Kendricks made us all proud by claiming a bronze medal in Rio, the first time in 14 years a U.S. pole vaulter had medaled in the Olympics. He has been a bright spot in an otherwise rough few days for our community and I publicly congratulate and thank him for bringing some much needed joy to the LOU community.

And then Sarah Perry, one of those directly impacted by this tragedy, inspired us even more with her words of hope and faith on social media. Encouraging all of us that we can get through this together. Her post was incredible.

The toughest part of this roller-coaster week is still ahead with funerals and a celebration of life service planned for the weekend. But I’m certain the way this community has responded, those who have been impacted the most, and the rest of us, will get through this.

Rob Sigler is managing editor of The Oxford
EAGLE. Contact him at rob.sigler@oxfordeagle.com.