Imagine sitting in Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park on Independence Day with your kids running around playing, friends and family in lawn chairs next to you, and the area packed with holiday revelers, some five-to-ten deep lined up to watch the 4th of July parade.
Red, white, and blue balloons bob up and down on the arms of little ones … vendor awnings are decorated in patriotic colors to add to the festivities. There’s conversation and laughter as folks wait to see friends on floats and politicians in cars, and children riding tricycles and pulling wagons while waving small American flags.
Imagine a tractor-trailer truck making its way up Thornrose Avenue where floats are lining up, and turning slowly into the park on the route parade participants will follow shortly. Imagine folks quizzically looking around thinking the driver was lost and had turned the wrong way.
And then imagine that truck speeding up as it takes aim at the crowds of families and vendors lining the street, the driver plowing down as many pedestrians as possible while aiming a gun out the window and shooting everyone within range, as he proceeded from the Thornrose entrance of the park to the entrance near the former Tastee-Freez.
That’s what happened yesterday in Nice, France, on their Bastille Day — their Independence Day — as a terrorist drove a tractor-trailer into the crowds packed in to watch fireworks, and continued driving for over a mile. This morning 84 people are reported to be dead including 10 children and teenagers, with more than 200 injuries.
The dead included two Americans, a father and son, traveling together through Europe. The dad was 51 and coached his son’s baseball team; his son was 11. They were from Austin and had started their European vacation in Spain before ending up in Nice and encountering every family’s nightmare.
France, once again, has become the epicenter of violence as the world weeps for those who were lost, and for the never-to-be-seen-again innocence of the past … and the war with terrorism continues.