The final funeral Tuesday for the servicemen killed in the July 16 attacks on two Chattanooga military offices brings an initial sense of closure to this city and its broken hearts.
Flags were everywhere Tuesday to pay tribute to Navy U.S. Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, who was laid to rest in Chattanooga National Cemetery after a service at First Baptist Church of Fort Oglethorpe. His eulogy and burial brought to a close a five-day whirlwind of funeral processions that began and ended here in our city.
On Monday, U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan was eulogized in Springfield, Mass.
On Sunday, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Squire "Skip" Wells was honored at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.
On Saturday, U.S. Marine Sgt. Carson Holmquist, 25, was buried in Grantsburg, Wisc.
On Friday, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. David Wyatt was honored at Hixson United Methodist Church and also laid to rest at Chattanooga National Cemetery.
Investigators still have not answered all the questions swirling about why the 24-year-old gunman, a naturalized American raised in Hixson, rented a Mustang convertible and went on a shooting rampage first at the military career center and recruiting office on Lee Highway and then at the Marine and Naval training center on Amnicola Highway. In addition to the five servicemen killed, a sixth was injured — along with a Chattanooga police officer. The shooter died during an ensuing gun battle with police.
FBI investigators have called the gunman a "homegrown extremist." They have not disclosed yet whether they have found a specific connection to terrorist groups beyond the knowledge that the young engineer had downloaded to his electronic devices radical information from the Internet. Certainly that information and other insight into his mental state will provide further closure. At the very least, it would offer some answers to our whys.
But real and final closure is up to the community and each one of us.
The final closure is forgiveness and understanding.
To reach that, we must learn how to put aside differences and learn how to better live together.