Strangers United By Tragedy 1/17/13
CBS 7 News
January 17, 2013
MIDLAND- Homer Ellinger quietly placed a stone memorial by the site of the tragic train accident, and news quickly spread about the small gift to the community.
It started with a Facebook message, and soon a local woman’s idea to honor the four U.S. soldiers killed in November’s Hunt for Heroes tragedy quickly grew to 26.
“I’ve not met the lady yet, we’ve just been communicating through e-mail,” said Ellinger. “She’s just a good Samaritan that heard the story and ran with it.”
A West Texan, who wants to remain anonymous, felt compelled to contact Ellinger and help raise funds to send 26 stone memorials to the families affected by last year’s tragedy.
“Me getting a little dusty for these families-- it’s just a small token of my appreciation to them,” said Ellinger.
But it’s a huge gift especially for Leslie Brooke, the younger sister of fallen U.S. Army Sergeant Joshua Michael.
“My son never met Josh, and I think it’s a beautiful way to memorialize him,” said Brooke.
Now, these three complete strangers are connected through a tragedy no one saw coming.
“To receive something like this from someone I never met,” said Brooke. “For someone to put their heart into something just to give to us-- it’s breathtaking.”
The love of the community from complete strangers has helped Leslie’s heart heal, and to know her brother was among the love and support of the community, during the accident, brings her peace.
“He was treated like royalty the day he died,” Brooke said. “He and his wife were treated like a king and queen, and the community was just loving on them. It was one of the happiest days of his life.”
And as Ellinger reflects on everything that’s happened, he knows it’s all for a reason.
“God kind of throws this in my path, and my motto is glorify God everyday,” said Ellinger. “And I’m doing just that.”