Friday, September 22, 2006

Johnathan Benson honored, laid to rest

Community bids its hero goodbye

If but for a brief moment, the people of North Branch felt great compassion this past weekend.

The skies wept along with the family and friends of Johnathan Lee Benson as they comforted each other while saying goodbye to their beloved hometown hero.

Those filled with sorrow and grief hugged and held each other, sharing in their great loss.

But they were reminded Sunday, in an overfilled high school auditorium, that Johnathan didn’t lose his life, he willingly gave it to others.

And in his prayer that day, Pastor Frank Gomes reminded everyone that death is not the last chapter in our lives.

Marine Cpl. Johnathan Benson, 21, simply moved on to the next chapter of his life Sept. 9 at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the pastor said. Benson died of injuries he received while in his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Many in the community remembered the 2003 graduate of North Branch Area High School for his infectious smile and the joy he found in living.

Read the rest at the Post Review

Wounded but we'll heal
--Editorial on death of North Branch soldier Johnathan Benson
by MaryHelen Swanson

We have been wounded. If you think that living in our cozy little communities in East Central Minnesota means we are not affected by what goes on in the world, think again.

The essence of truth came home to us this past week as one of our own, a young man with the gleam of a glorious future in his eyes, closed them for the last time.

The war in Iraq has struck us once again.

Only this time it wasn’t someone who had lived life for a while, had accomplished much and had set his name in the hearts of the people of North Branch. I’m speaking about former mayor and beloved youth coach John Pinsonneault.

This time it was a God-fearing young man who dreamed of being in the military from a youngster on. Who had a meaningful Bible message tattooed on his body and who had plans for a wonderful life with a Christian wife - whose walk in life was only beginning.

Johnathan Benson brought joy to those who knew him, so they say. While I was never privileged to have known him personally, I feel as if he had been in my life too. He was, in fact, only one year older than my first-born grandchild.

Besides all the wonderful things said about him at the funeral service Sunday, I would hear snippets of stories about his life from this person and that.

Most recently I learned why he had signed up for the second tour of duty - so he could help put his nieces and nephews through college.

Life mattered to him. People mattered to him. His life was meaningful, as Governor Tim Pawlenty affirmed at the funeral. He walked the talk.

Even while desperately trying to recover from very serious injuries, from lost limbs, bacterial enemies and strokes, he brought joy and hope to those who cared for him. We may never know the pain he suffered, nor how hard he tried to come back to those who loved him.

We do know that around the world people prayed for him and kept him in their hearts.

To be sure, we have been wounded by the loss of this young man. We will heal, and we will hopefully remember his sacrifice. What we need to do now is continue to support our young people, tell them we love them, appreciate their dreams and goals, and help them to achieve all that life has in store for them. This is every parents goal and so hard to achieve.

As his family already knows, life doesn’t always go the way we want it to.

But they should be proud of him, North Branch is proud of him.

Let the healing begin and the memories remain.

From Hometown Source