A Hero’s Tribute
“O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!”
When Katherine L. Bates wrote the words to her poem, she wanted to make note of those who had fought for freedom and liberty in America. But the words also apply to those who through the years fought and continue to fight to keep America, The Beautiful free.
The late Bob and Sandy Cole, formerly of Ludlow Falls, didn’t know they were raising a hero when their little boy Marc was running around the yard doing ‘little boy things.’ Neither did they know that as the family literally built their home on State Route 55 that their son would be reck-oned as a hero one day. He was just their son whom they loved.
According to the people that knew Marc Cole, he was just an average American teen, who “loved God, his mom, dad and his sister, and enjoyed playing football, and spending time with his friends.” But he also loved his country, and that fact motivated him to serve his country in the United States Marine Corps following his graduation from West Milton High School in 1982.
Following basic training and other activities of his unit, Marc and his fellow soldiers of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines were assigned to a tour of peace keeping in the fragile and war-torn Beirut, Lebanon. If you know a little history of the recent past, then you know that on October 23, 1983, while over 300 of the soldiers were sleeping in their barracks, two bomb-laden trucks crashed into the compound, detonating the explosives and killed 241 U.S. Service personal, including 220 Ma-rines. It was the largest loss of life for the Marines since WWII. Over 100 more people were seri-ously injured.
Marc L. Cole, the “average American teen” was one of the men killed in the attack. On that day, Marc and his comrades became heroes. In the service of their country, they were attempting to keep peace and protect innocent people from the bloodshed that could’ve erupted at any time.
I never knew Marc personally, but it was about the time I was first getting to know his parents at church. Over the years, they became very special to me and I got to know their son vicariously through their memories and photos. I was at times amazed at the courage they exhibited even in the hardest time of their lives. Having known them, makes it easy to understand Lance Corporal Marc L. Cole’s courage and patriotism.
One week ago, this past Friday, State Sen. Steve Huffman and Steve Smiley, both friends and former football teammates of Marc’s at West Milton High School, held a dedication ceremony at the school and then unveiled signs along a section of State Route 55, naming it “LCpl. Marc L. Cole Memorial Highway.”
Thank you for remembering your friend and one of our heroes.
I know there are many, like his sister Jodi, his nieces and nephews and other family members, who will keep Marc’s memory alive, but the signs will be a small reminder to us of Marc’s service and, as with other signs in this county and around the country, that freedom and liberty is costly.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to email@example.com