The dedication came on the anniversary of the death of Christopher in the line of duty as a U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialist in Afghanistan. Teresa said the date of Christopher's death, like that of his birth, will always be special to her as she celebrates his life.
The theme of lost and found came up several times in her talk. Loss is very personal for a mother. Teresa said that the peace she has in dealing with Christopher's death came from God, and is not something she would have imagined a year ago. "He's where he's supposed to be," she said.
In finding a place to honor Christopher, Teresa thought back on what had been special in Christopher's life. Both Christopher and his brother, Trenton, found special meaning in the Phantom F-4 jet placed by the Monett Kiwanis Club and the city as a veterans memorial at South Park.
The boys had a nickname for the plane growing up, pointing to it as they'd go past on Highway 37. So it was at the plane where Teresa first wanted to have the funeral. She moved services, because out-of-town protestors wanted to use the occasion to make an irrelevant statement. The jet became the natural choice as the site for a memorial to her son, Christopher.
The idea for creating a veterans memorial at South Park was a good one by itself. It's interesting how living with the jet for nearly 20 years has brought new meaning to its presence in our midst. Now, we don't want to think of South Park without it.
The other theme in Teresa's comments was family. She spoke about how Christopher's colleagues in the 705th EOD Team were now her boys too, and how Monett embraced her like family in her time of loss.
It was heartwarming to hear Teresa say, "Monett takes care of its own." We know that every word that needs to be said doesn't always get spoken, and every person who contributes to the growth and betterment of the community doesn't always hear a "thank you."
But an effort is made to get those words said. Honors are given as encouragement and as a true expression of appreciation. Thanks for laying one brick leads to the laying of another.
The bench in memory of Christopher Stark is beautiful. It will be appreciated for years to come and enjoyed by many who never knew him. It will help make the veterans memorial site even more special for the community. From loss, we find renewal. We find we can say thank you in a whole new way.