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Plane crash anniversary: Remembering the victims, thanking the community

By John B. Farese

I have struggled for a year to write this. I pray that you will understand why.

August 14, 2016, was the darkest day of the lives of three families. A telephone call that no one ever wants to get delivered the worst message a parent could get.

Dr. Jason Perry Farese, Dr. Lea Montgomery Farese, Dr. Michael Perry, Kim Perry, Dr. Austin Poole and Angie Poole were all killed in an airplane crash in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The enormity of the message literally knocked me to my knees.

It seemed like a nightmare, unreal.

I wanted to do something, but there was nothing I could do or say that would change what happened. Someone had to tell the children what had happened. As I was driving to tell Luke, Alexa and Layla that their parents were dead, I prayed for the strength to do what I had to do.

It was worse than I imagined.

After telling them and crying with them, I realized that no one had told the Perry family. I walked down the street to their house and had to endure the pain of telling them that their parents were not coming home, ever. What followed was nothing short of amazing. People from everywhere appeared to console us in our grief. Enough food to feed an army.

Hugs and tears were everywhere. Friends and strangers began to help plan for the Celebration of Life at the Ole Miss coliseum and the funerals. People volunteered their homes and motels for those who were coming to pay their respects. Families, friends, teammates and others poured into Oxford to show their love and respect for those dear, wonderful, talented, young people who perished that fateful day.

The love was palpable and genuine. The loss to the families, businesses, friends and communities was evident. Everyone wanted to know what they could do. We did not know what to say, except thank you for what you have already done. We are all hearing how America needs to be great again. I, for one, will tell anyone who will listen that America is already great.

The people here in Mississippi and the other states are good, loving, caring people. None of us would want to live anywhere else. Bad things do happen to good people, but the good people rally to help each other when those dark days come. It would have been impossible to thank all of you for the countless things you have done for the Perry family, the Poole family and the Farese family.

Your love, sympathy, empathy and prayers have keep us all above the angry waves of despair, depression and hopelessness. Without all those good, wonderful people, the tragedy would have overcome us. My prayer is that all of you will remember that everyone you see, meet or know will have had or will have their darkest day.

Be loving, kind, thoughtful, helpful to each other. Love one another, genuine love. Look for ways you can make others have a better, happier and uplifting day. That kind of goodness is contagious.

All of us will be the beneficiaries, if we will embark on our daily journeys with that as our goal.

Please continue to pray for these families. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. May God bless and keep all of you safe.

John B. Farese lives in Oxford and practices law. He is the father of the late Dr. Jason Farese.