Just out of Baggs, WY, I crest a long hill in the early morning light. Almost immediately the topography changes. It is greener and there are yellow flowers along the road and valleys as far as I can see and in the distance, mountains loom. It is the kind of morning that greets me every day. Fresh air, sun, music from the side of the road as crickets and birds sing their songs. This morning would be different though.
Violet Kaylor is driving a lonely stretch of Hwy. 13 north of Craig, CO. It has been a long trip for her. She is from Hartselle, AL and left on Sunday June 20th headed for Mile Post 114. Her son was Jon-Eric Loney. An Army Corporal, he was 21 years old when he died on November 28th, 2006 in Iraq. We move forward to a meeting in the Colorado countryside, towards each other for a brief time in our lives. I see a black, Dodge Charger with Alabama plates approach and slow. It stops. It is Violet. We walk together and she tells me about her son. Infectious, generous and just a really good son. It is quiet too, as we walk. I ask Violet to look around…..There are sheep grazing and lambs feeding and a creek runs nearby. A sheep wagon sits on the side of the hill. It is a beautiful place. A soothing, calm place to put her sons flag. It has always been an honor for me to serve this country 30 years ago and it was an honor to walk this mile for Jon-Eric with his mother. I cannot imagine her sadness and yet I see her love for her son. It was important for her to be here at Mile Post 114, to see her sons flag be placed and then to take him home. We embrace and words of gratitude are shared. Violet slowly drives away and I resume this journey. Life often brings us circumstances and people who change our lives, that somehow enrich it in a way we can’t explain. I would spend the better part of the day thinking about this Mothers Calling and its effect on me. Thank you Violet Kaylor and thank you Jon-Eric Loney for this mile in Colorado.