Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jason Beadles laid to rest

LA PORTE -- Her head on her husband’s shoulder and her hand clasping that of her granddaughter’s, Delona Beadles shook her head in grief Saturday afternoon as she watched her youngest son’s flag-draped coffin disappear inside a waiting hearse outside the La Porte High School Auditorium.

Seeming stoic despite the circumstances, her husband, Roger, turned and kissed her on top of the head.

Army Spc. Jason Beadles, killed April 12 in Iraq, was buried Saturday afternoon -- but not before friends and family, community members and active and retired members of the military gathered to pay their last respects to a man U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Granger, called simply “a hero.”

And gather they did.

On a nearly cloudless spring morning, hundreds of people, many of whom had never met Jason, arrived at the auditorium just before 11 a.m., filling nearly all of its 744 seats to, as Rev. Bill Fine, a personal friend of Jason’s, put it, “share the good word” about Jason, who died of electrocution April 12 in Baghdad while helping to build a defensive perimeter.

That good word included Fine’s lighthearted remembrance of Jason’s fondness for hockey, and how he could never be sure if Jason, all 6 feet 3 inches and 230 pounds of him, actually liked the game itself, or whether he simply liked “bumping into people and knocking them down.”

Of course Jason wasn’t around to answer that question -- or the other question that seemed, in one way or another, to be on everyone’s mind Saturday morning: “Why?”

Jason, 22, died in Baghdad when a power surge sent an electrical current from a power line through a concrete barrier and into Jason, who happened to be standing in water while helping to maneuver the barrier into place. A medic on the scene tried unsuccessfully to revive him.

Speaking to The La Porte County Herald-Argus last week, Jason’s oldest brother, Army Sgt. Josh Beadles of Fort Carson, Colo., called his brother’s death a “freak, random accident.”

“I think the Lord is forgiving enough to understand that in times of grief we are going to ask, ‘Why?’” State Sen. Jim Arnold, D-La Porte, said Saturday.

Perhaps, said Fine, who presided over the service, the meaning was right there in the auditorium, in the outpouring of love and support from the community in reaction to Jason’s death.

“I’m struck by how much the community has embraced the Beadles,” he said. “Maybe that goodness is what God wants us to live every day.”

For Chaplain James Roselli, with the Indiana National Guard, the answer seemed to lie in Jason’s mission, a mission he said in many ways reflected that of Jesus Christ’s: “To engage and defeat evil in the world.”

“Jason put himself in harm’s way,” he said. “And Jason encountered and defeated evil, just as the people he left behind are still in the process of defeating evil.”

“Like the Lord,” he said, “he paid the ultimate price. And like the Lord he continues to live.”

“He stood up to protect those who could not protect themselves,” State Rep. Tom Dermody, R-Michigan City, said of Jason. “He walked his post so that others could sleep peacefully. Cpl. Beadles epitomized sacrifice.”

Donnelly, after describing how he struggled to come up with the right word or phrase to describe Jason -- “fierce warrior, proud son, faithful soldier” -- before finally settling on simply “hero,” told of how, during his time in Iraq, Jason protected fellow soldiers from the enemy.

“Jason saved lives,” he said. “As we sit here today, soldiers are alive in Iraq only because of Jason.”

Still, said Fine, “We may not fully understand until we get to heaven. We struggle with the issue of why he had to die. But when we get to heaven, God will reveal his good plan.”

None seemed to struggle so much Saturday as Army Spc. Keith Kenyon, a close friend of Jason’s described in his obituary as an “honorary brother.”

In a short, poignant speech, Kenyon fought back tears as he implored those closest to Jason to “Be not ashamed to say you loved him,” and to “take one moment to embrace the gentle warrior left behind.”

Shuffling off the stage to applause, Kenyon landed in the arms of the Beadles family, who had been seated throughout in the front row of the auditorium, just in front of Jason’s flag-draped, spotlighted coffin.

Following the service at the high school, Jason’s body was carried to Patton Cemetery, where his burial with full military honors took place.

From the Herald Argus

Related Link:
Jason J. Beadles dies from 'non-combat related injury'