Early last week, Troy lost two of its own in a car crash on Highway 47 – a tragic and sudden accident that only added to an already sad summer for the community.
Sixteen-year-olds Brayden Hood and Mario Montalvo were not the only young men to pass away in vehicle accidents this summer.
Hunter Thorp, another Troy student, was killed in a car accident in June, and 20-year-old Tayler Turpin was lost on the Cuivre River on Memorial Day in a boating accident.
One of these deaths would be enough, but the ashes scattered from these four tragedies are more than able to bury any place in grief like soot drifting down from Pompeii.
But the strength of a small, close-knit community like Lincoln County is more than enough to scatter the falling sands.
During the Lincoln County Fair, we saw members of the agriculture community pool together to support Tayler Turpin’s sister, Madilynn, buying her show hog for an exorbitant amount to provide a form of support for the young woman as she moves on without her brother.
Last Thursday, the community showed its collective strength again as it grieved over the loss of Hood, Montalvo and Thorp.
Hundreds of people gathered to light candles, laugh and cry together on Clonts Field as people who knew the three boys spoke to the gathered crowds.
The Troy Buchanan Show Choir, who was hit hard by the accident last Monday, joined their voices together in a mournful song, but then ended the night with a rousing, upbeat fight song, showcasing the fortitude wielded by the extended Lincoln County family.
This is the power of a small community.
I grew up in a disconnected part of St. Louis County where neighbors didn’t talk to each other and the closest thing to a community gathering was Halloween every year. I only recognized people at the local grocery store because I worked there – every other face was lost in the massive population.
It’s part of the reason I love small towns, or in Troy’s case, places that maintain that small-town feel. I really grew to appreciate it in the last town I lived in.
In a population of less than 800, that community would raise tens of thousands of dollars at the drop of a hat if there was a serious need for a member of its family.
From what I saw last week, Troy and Lincoln County are no different.
Community support in a place like Troy goes beyond simple token gestures and half-hearted spurts of “it’s going to be okay.”
I saw real pain and genuine consolation being shared Thursday night, the kind you only share with your family or close friends.
As great as the pain was, the love shown by the hundreds of people on Clonts Field was just as strong.
No matter how weak you may feel in the face of a tragedy, if your support system is strong, if your family is there for you, there’s very little you can’t overcome.