From Central Michigan Life:
By Ryan J. Stanton
Life Senior Reporter
November 22, 2004
CENTRAL MICHIGAN LIFE
|Stepsister Lauren Loveberry, honors her brother Lance Cpl. Justin Ellsworth at the community memorial Sunday afternoon. Ellsworth is a Mount Pleasant Marine who died in Iraq Nov. 13.|
Stepsister Lauren Loveberry, honors her brother Lance Cpl. Justin Ellsworth at the community memorial Sunday afternoon. Ellsworth is a Mount Pleasant Marine who died in Iraq Nov. 13.
Before being deployed to Iraq, Justin Ellsworth told his father to look to the stars.
“Anytime you miss me, look up at the stars. I’ll be looking up too,” he told his father John Ellsworth of Wixom.
John Ellsworth said he was able to spend a week camping with his son this previous summer and together they watched the sun set on a star-clustered sky.
It wouldn’t be long before Justin Ellsworth of Mount Pleasant would be in Iraq, watching those stars from afar.
“He’s still looking at the same stars, just from the other end,” his father told a large crowd during a memorial ceremony in downtown Mount Pleasant on Sunday.
Hundreds of friends, family and members of the community filled the intersection of Broadway and Main streets near the Korean War Memorial.
They came to express their grief and gratitude for Lance Cpl. Ellsworth, who paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life Nov. 13. He was killed when a roadside bomb struck the vehicle carrying him and several other Marines on a mission to rescue Iraqi civilians in Fallujah.
|Mother Tracy Ross and stepfather Jim Ross bow their heads as a prayer of remembrance is said for their son, Lance Cpl. Justin Ellsworth, during the community memorial service honoring the fallen Marine Sunday afternoon.|
Mother Tracy Ross and stepfather Jim Ross bow their heads as a prayer of remembrance is said for their son, Lance Cpl. Justin Ellsworth, during the community memorial service honoring the fallen Marine Sunday afternoon.
A 2003 graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, Ellsworth, 20, was laid to rest Saturday in Lansing.
Sunday’s prayers and ceremonies, complete with a 21-gun salute and playing of Taps, served as a reminder of the high price of freedom.
“Justin’s death is untimely and unexpected as it has nullified our naivety as a community to this war,” said Dale Freed, pastor of the Blanchard Wesleyan church.
Maj. Gregg Mays, military science chairman, told the crowd he didn’t know Ellsworth personally, but considers him a friend.
He cited a verse from the Bible, John 15:13, which reads: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
“As a soldier myself, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Justin thinks of us all as his friends,” Mays said.
While it would be easy to focus on pain and grief, it’s the positive things that Ellsworth should be remembered for, Mays said.
Ellsworth’s family said he spent the last days of his life warning Iraqi civilians of pending forceful action, cautioning them to evacuate their homes.
“He laid down his life to his new friends — the Iraqi people who would have otherwise been in harm’s way,” Mays said.
J.L. Balls, a high school friend of Ellsworth, took stage to read a poem for his fallen friend, who he and others knew by a different name: “Tweeder,” a nickname stemming from the movie “Varsity Blues.”
Several of his friends wore blue T-shirts adorned with Ellsworth’s hockey and football jersey number “05.”
“Here’s to you Tweeder. You made the world a hell of a lot neater,” Balls said ending the poem.
Ellsworth’s mother, Tracy Ross of Colorado, fought back tears to tell the crowd how much their support meant to her. She said it reaffirmed that her son was important.
“Don’t ever forget him,” she said. “If you still need someone to talk to, he’s still here. He’ll still answer and he’ll still give you the best advice.”
Freed said Ellsworth’s death was a personal matter for him because his own son recently received orders to go to Afghanistan.
“From the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry that you paid a price that, for years to come, won’t go away,” Freed said as tears filled his eyes.
Mount Pleasant resident John Smith addressed the crowd, restating that freedom comes with a price and America is worth fighting for.
It was Ellsworth who understood this most, he said.
“We can’t afford to lose too many Justin Ellsworths,” he said.
Last modified date and time: 01/17/2005 8:41