Earlier this week, Spc. Dennis P. Weichel Jr. of Providence, Rhode Island, was killed in Afghanistan. I cannot imagine the pain his wife, children and family must feel right now, and my thoughts and condolences go out to them even though I’ve never met them.
While this kind of post is not the norm for me, I felt compelled because of the story behind this soldier’s death, and because we so often hear only of the bad things our troops do (not that we shouldn’t know those too, don’t get me wrong). But the actions of this man, Spc. Dennis Weichel, exemplify what I always hope lives in all of us — a selfless compassion and, from what I’ve read of his actions in his final moments, a belief in behaving toward others as you would hope they would behave toward you…no matter who they are. From what I’ve read and seen in video clips on the news, he responded with empathy, as a good dad who would hope that others would reach out to help his children if there ever was a need.
I am so sorry for his family, friends and his peers who were with him on that mission, that his actions had to be his final ones, and my heart goes out to them. But, I also am thankful that he was there for that Afghan child in a way that I hope someone would be for a loved one of mine, in a way that I hope I would be if I saw a stranger in peril. I hope that all of us, in the military and in civilian society, think of his actions as we move through our daily life … and that we speak up when we hear or see something wrong and help each other out when we can. His actions, though [so] sadly and unfortunately final, show the best of what it means to be an American, the best (in my opinion) of what our military can be while it’s stretched thin in so many locations, and, most importantly, the best of what it means to be human.
Rest in peace, Spc. Weichel, and thank you and your family for your final act of bravery, compassion and humanity. If you children grow up like you, you will have left an additional wonderful legacy.