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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Saturday, September 18, 2004

Devin Grella

The war has come to Medina, Ohio.

Less than three years ago, Devin Grella was a senior walking down the same corridors of Medina High School that my son Eddie is walking down as I write these words. This afternoon, his funeral procession will make its way past the high school and through the town square en route to his final resting place.

Less than three years ago, Grella was a member of the lacrosse and cross-country teams. He also played football and basketball. He was 21 years old when he died.

Less than a year ago, Grella joined the Army Reserve because he liked the idea of serving his country and because it would help pay for the college education he wanted. He got basic training in Missouri and advance training in Texas. After training, he spent six weeks with his family. He celebrated his 21st birthday on July 20. In Iraq.

Less than three years ago, as described by his family and his many friends, Grella was a fun-loving kid, a good person who loved people. Twelve days ago, serving as a member of the Army Reserve's 706th Transportation Company, he died when an "improvised explosive device" exploded near his convoy. He is survived by his parents, Donna and Dennis, his three brothers, Dustin, 35, Darren, 29, and Drew, 19, other family members, his friends and teachers, and his co-workers at the various jobs he held in the area.

He is mourned by his community.

The war has come to Medina.

******

The Medina Sun carried the following information about today's funeral procession:
The funeral procession for Pfc. Devin Grella will wind through Medina beginning at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 4411 Windfall Road, Granger Township, at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday.

The procession will leave the church and head west on Granger Road to state Route 3 where it will turn south and pass Medina High School and the Medina Community Recreation Center. As it heads toward Ohio Western Reserve Cemetery in Rittman, it will pass along the north and west sides of Public Square in Medina and proceed south on state Route 3 toward the cemetery.

"This is a time to come and show support for all of our troops and for the Grella family," said Mayor Jane Leaver. "This is not the time to politicize. This is about this family and their grief and the troops still serving."

I agree with Medina's mayor that this funeral procession isn't the time for "politicizing," a word I am coming to loathe as it is most often used by those who put Grella and so many other Americans in harm's way and by their supporters...and used by them to curtail or deflect public debate on their manifest malfeasance, at best, in squandering these and so many other innocent lives.

Sadly, the grieving for Grella and his slain fellow soldiers has already been "politicized" in my hometown.

******

Two days after Grella was killed in Iraq, there was a silent vigil in Medina. Several dozen people walked around Public Square carrying candles to honor the over 1,000 American servicemen and women who have died in Iraq. There were no speeches. There were no signs. It was a non-partisan and respectful gathering.

The vigil was one of hundreds held around the country on that evening. It was organized by MoveOn, a group which opposes the war in Iraq and President Bush, and supports John Kerry. If it was at all political, it was only because of the simple truth that it was Bush who led us into a war deemed "illegal" by the United Nations, a war whose rationales have been proven false and stripped away one by one, a war which was ill-conceived from the get-go and which has become a quagmire, a war which distracted our forces from finding and punishing those who actually attacked our country. If it was at all political - and I question that assessment - it was because Bush must bear the responsibility for an unnecessary war that has cost our country so dearly.

Before the vigil, no one questioned its non-partisan nature. It was publicized and supported throughout the community, including a single announcement at the high school which Grella had attended just a few short years previously.

After the vigil, the local Republicans got their panties in a bunch. They bitched and moaned to the principal of the high school who, in turn, bitched and moaned to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he didn't know MoveOn was involved. Please.

MoveOn's connection with the national vigils was publicized in newspapers and online. One would think the principal of one of the largest high schools in the state - maybe the largest - would take a modicum of interest in issues which profoundly effect the futures of the students in his charge. Further, taking such interest, how could he fail to praise MoveOn in its efforts to end the Iraq war and seek a change in a government which has so callously, falsely, and greedily expended the lives of so many American soldiers in its quest for power and profits?

The silent vigil of September 12 wasn't "politicized" until it was "politicized" by the Medina County Republican Party and that principal. They opened the door. I merely want to shut it behind them as they are driven from their positions of power.

I can only imagine the grief the Grella family suffers today and which will they will suffer all the days of their lives, but I do know the coldness that clutches at my heart when I think of our dead, the thousands of other American soldiers injured and maimed, and the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have also been killed and maimed in this war.

I know the fear which gets a stranglehold on my soul whenever I think of all the other young men and woman at risk because of the Bush administration. My son Eddie. My daughter Kelly. All their friends and classmates. My nieces and nephews. This generation of our brightest hopes and dreams.

The silent vigil was non-partisan and respectful. I hope the funeral procession for Devin Grella is likewise.

A day of grieving silence is appropriate.

Keeping silent isn't.

******

The editorial page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for September 17 included this:

JEERS...

to Linda Schiller-Hanna, who "didn't think it mattered" that she didn't tell Medina High School officials who didn't realize they were promoting an event sponsored by MoveOn.org when they notified students of a candlelight vigil at the town square. In this highly charged election year, especially, affiliations like that matter.

Do such affiliations matter? Perhaps.

Do they matter as much as the fact that the silent vigil was a non-partisan and respectful event? No.

Do they matter as much as the Republicans "politicizing" that non-partisan and respectful event? No.

Do they matter as much as Grella and his fellow soldiers whose lives have been recklessly wasted by the Bush administration in its ill-conceived and mismanaged war?

Of course not.

******

The campaign signs are starting to appear in Medina. Much to my surprise, given the conservative nature of my hometown, the Bush signs only slightly outnumber the Kerry signs. I confess I roll my eyes whenever I see a Bush sign, but there is only one sign that truly makes me angry. It reads:

SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH AND OUR TROOPS.

I don't believe one can logically do both.

That's why I support our troops.

That's why I'm voting for Kerry.

******

Postscript.

Monroeville High School is about 50 miles west of Medina. On Thursday, September 16, funeral services were held for Pfc. Jason Sparks, a graduate who died when his platoon was engaged in direct fire in Fallujah.

He had arrived in Iraq one week earlier.

He was 19 years old.

Tony Isabella

<< 09/17/2004 | 09/18/2004 | 09/19/2004 >>

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