New Orleans is a place that's mediated. It's a place that, before anyone arrives, they've read about and heard about - there were not only preconceived notions, but also wholly formed images in one's head.
Kiel, my hometown, does not fit in the same category. A non-native might have an inkling of what he or she might find, but the city doesn't register in the public consciousness nationwide. It's a place that's normally off the map.
That's why I found it interesting, for the first time ever really, to read about my own hometown through the eyes of others, through the eyes of people who weren't familiar with Kiel before the attack on Fort Hood.
Mike Nichols of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel attended the vigil for Amy Krueger on Sunday night:
"From across the banks of the Sheboygan River, after night fell in tiny Kiel, there was a final beauty in the flickering lights spread across Veterans Memorial Park.
This is a place, a small town far from Fort Hood, Texas, where the 29-year-old soldier's memory will be held forever - where the monument near the dais where they cried and sang is for all those "who gave their today for your tomorrow."
As sad as it is to read about Kiel through the prism of a terrible tragedy, Nichols did an admirable and respectful job of bringing to life the people and the setting that I know. I know Bob Schoenborn, the man quoted on the bridge. I stood on that same white dais in that same tiny park years ago on Memorial Day. I've skated and canoed on that millpond.
But most of all, I know the sentiment that Nichols captured - the true sadness and grief born of a place where, above all else, every person matters.