The last few days have been tough for us in the news room, having been shaken, like the rest of the nation, by the shootings in Tuscon on Saturday, then hearing about the passing of a former work colleague.
And just this morning we learned of the death of an old Pennsylvania soldier whose heroic action in World War II was immortalized through a book and the television miniseries "Band of Brothers."
The Arizona shootings add another chapter to the mass murders that have rocked this nation's recent history. The burst of gunfire last Saturday outside a supermarket forever links Tuscon to tragic massacres that have identified Columbine and Virginia Tech with senseless tragedy.
Among the six dead in Saturday's rampage was 9-year-old Christina Greene. Having been born on 9/11/01 – a date never to be forgotten in American history – Christina reportedly recognized the historic significance of the date of her birth and was very patriotic because of it. Her father, the son of former Phillies' baseball manager Dallas Greene, stated in a news interview how Christina's life began and ended on two of the most tragic dates in American history. Yet, he said in the nine years in between those infamous dates, the little girl was a shining light in the lives of the Greene family and others who knew her.
The same day of the Tuscon shootings, the TIMES NEWS family lost a good friend in Bill Garber, who died at the age of 76 in St. Luke's Hospital, Fountain Hill. Before his retirement, Bill worked in the pre-press department. Outside the plant, he was often seen photographing sporting events.
The name Dick Winters was immortalized in Steven Spielberg's miniseries "Band of Brothers." Winters, the former commander of Easy Company and native of Ephrata, Pa., died at the age of 92. He received many decorations, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
It was the movie based on Stephen Ambrose's book, however, that thrust Winters and a number of his comrades from Easy Company into the national spotlight. He even shared a podium with President George W. Bush in Hershey during the presidential campaign in 2004
After the miniseries in 2001, Winters received countless other requests for interviews and appearances all over the world, but he much preferred the quiet life of an old soldier in his home in Hershey. He was more likely to accept invitations by local school groups and spend time with students in his home region than mingle with worldwide celebrities.
William Guarnere, 88, who's been a frequent guest at the Forks of the Delaware Historical Arms Society's shows in Agriculture Hall in Allentown, revered Winters as a leader of men, recalling how Winters "saved the company a lot of times."
A decade ago, Sen. Rick Santorum mounted a campaign for Major Winters to be awarded the Medal of Honor. It took several months for the senator to receive permission from Major Winters whose selfless focus remained on his men and for those who made the supreme sacrifice.
Ambrose, the late "Band of Brothers" author, once stated in an interview that he hoped young people would say. "I want to be like Dick Winters." He explained that he didn't necessarily mean becoming a soldier, but for the young people to identify with Winters as a leader and a "man, with basic honesty and virtue and an understanding of the difference between right and wrong."
By Jim Zbick