To the editor: A heartfelt thank you to the people of Chestertown, from my wife, Susan, and I, and Kathleen, my late son's fiancée.
This community wrapped us in a loving and supportive embrace when we lost our beloved Conor, 24, Marine 1st. Lieutenant in the Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion based at Camp Pendleton, in San Diego, on May 9. Conor was tragically killed in a preventable "accident," as he led a group of armored vehicles on maneuvers.
You all helped cushion the terrible shock and deep loss we felt. You, unbidden, accommodated in your homes, Conor's Citadel classmates, his young Marine officer friends, Kathleen's parents, brother and sister, and buddies from his birthplace, Washington, D.C., where he lived for 22 years, as we prepared a memorial service at our church, Emmanuel Episcopal. It was a packed congregation that day, and it was touching to also see people line the town's sidewalks, watching Conor's flag draped casket arrive, escorted by Marine officers, and listen to the kilted piper playing Scottish and Irish laments. Some of you came to Conor's burial at Arlington National Cemetery, across the river from his old home of D.C., and then attended the reception at our former church of 30 years, St. John's Lafayette Square, opposite the White House, and where we were married and Conor had been a Sunday school student and acolyte.
The support from parishioners at Emmanuel has been matched by so many other people, young and old. We love this town for the kindness shown to us and the respect for Conor. And also for diplomatically respecting the times when we don't wish to talk and are happy to talk. Some of you knew Conor — handsome, tall, slim, powerfully strong, witty, sunny, bright, loving and modest. A true leader loved by his men, as they told us when we met them, and memorialized again by the battalion at their own memorial which we three attended in San Diego. Conor and Kathleen planned to marry in Chestertown last month.
We have never lived in a small town before and we love Chestertown's sense of community, intimacy and cornucopia of offerings in the arts and so much more.
When Conor died, we had barely been two years in this historic and beautiful town, but he, and now Kathleen, and we, regard it as home.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Michael H.C. McDowell
Susan M. Flanigan
Kathleen I.R. Bourque