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Trying to make sense of Notre Dame burning

Editor, The Beacon:

April 15, the world witnessed what can arguably be described as a colossal tragedy. Glued to our electronic devices and TVs, we were powerless as the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned before our eyes. For this to happen during Holy Week, the week at the core of the Catholic and Christian faith, seemed almost unimaginable. Like others, I asked why would God allow this to happen, and during Holy Week nonetheless?

Throughout Holy Week, Christians reflect on the mission of Jesus Christ, which was to embody love on Earth as He chose to sacrifice His life for the sins of those who believe in Him.

Following Christ’s resurrection, His followers began meeting in individuals’ homes. These early members of Christ’s church were committed to sharing the love of Christ no matter where they convened. Indeed, it was His followers who comprised the church, not the buildings in which they met.

So, what could be the message in this historical event playing out before us? After all, I don’t believe in coincidences.

As I prayed that the cathedral would be salvaged, I tasted a sweet revelation. Not only did I see a new perspective, I actually began to celebrate the beauty of this truth unfolding before my eyes: Christ’s love endures forever. I saw this truth personified in the news updates that continue to pour in. The fire began just as the last of the tourists were leaving for the day, so the cathedral was not as populated as it could have been. Though one firefighter suffered serious injuries, there were no fatalities.

Yes, a portion of the building was destroyed, but miraculously, the foundation of the building was salvaged; its altar, its cross and the signature rose stained-glass windows all remain intact. Again, what could be the message behind these series of manifestations?

Could it be to remind us that the foundation of Christ’s church, which are His followers, has remained solid throughout many tragedies over 2,000 years? Further, should we be reminded that His church exists independent of any structure that we could ever build, no matter its architectural splendor?

Truly, His love endures forever!

As we remind ourselves of this truth instead of asking how could God allow this to happen during Holy Week, we are compelled to ask could there not have been a more reverent time for this event to occur?

Ericka Burroughs-Fournier


Help needed to find DeLand High student from the 1960s

Editor, The Beacon:

Another Vietnam War casualty from West Volusia that we did not know of?

I am doing research on a former DeLand High School student who probably was killed in Vietnam in 1966. Problem is, I don’t have his ID number or Social Security number … and I can find little. Even the National Archives could offer nothing without his ID number.

This is turning out to be the hardest military research project I’ve ever undertaken. But perhaps someone in your readership might be able to help.

The only local photo I have of him is in the 1964 DHS Athenian. His name is Robert Crawford … and although I just made an arrangement with my pal Jim Cara to preserve a large collection of DHS, Stetson, DJHS, Euclid and middle-school yearbooks, I don’t have the 1960, ’61, ’62 or ’63 DJHS Kennels.

If you have one of those years, would you be so kind as to look and see if Robert Crawford is in it? That might help me establish when he came to this area.

Robert’s shipmate on the USS Intrepid, John Stern and Stern’s wife, Carol, tell me Robert disappeared on guard duty in late September or early October of 1966 on the Intrepid and was presumed to have fallen overboard. Yet no record exists of his death in the daily logs of the USS Intrepid, nor can any mention of him be found in any period casualty list. And I can’t find any burial or monument, either.

I have tracked down his parents’ info, and his local address in 1966; yet I have nothing on him other than he was at DHS in 1964 and apparently came to this area just a few years before that.

I have one photo of him in the Navy on the Intrepid in 1966 attached to Skyraider aviation unit VA-176.

Is this just a mistaken memory? Did he survive the war? Is it time to contact NCIS?

Our intent at the DeLand Historic Trust is to preserve all local Stetson, DHS, DJHS and Euclid yearbooks. They have proved invaluable for local military research, and certainly would in the future, as well.

If you have an Athenian or Kennel and are willing to donate it, please email me with the details to see if we need a copy for our library: danieljosephfriend@gmail.com.

Daniel Friend


— Friend, a DeLand native and retired high-school teacher, is a founder and president of the DeLand Historic Trust Inc., whose mission is preservation of local military history. One of his first projects was tracking the history of U.S. Army tugboats that were built on Lake Beresford.

Questions reporting on DeLand man’s suicide death

Editor, The Beacon:

I am writing about a recent article posted and shared by The Daytona Beach News-Journal about the death of Matthew Buth.

This article depicted a tragic and terrible ending to the life of a child, and young man, who gave so much to his town, his friends, and family. He was a multifaceted, open and genuine individual of whom we are all now greatly deprived.

I’m concerned about how his passing was presented by The News-Journal and at how this impacts those who are struggling the most right now.

Through my training in Stetson University’s counselor-education program, I am familiar with media procedures for handling delicate information regarding suicide deaths in the community.

There are decades of valuable research that has changed the way journalists report suicide because of the real, quantifiable risk of harm that can be afflicted on vulnerable parts of the community.

But the research notes the news media’s power in preventing harm, as well.

For that reason, I am fearful that the way Matthew’s death was reported was and is damaging to the readers, as well as to those who knew and loved him for who he was as a whole person.

As a counseling intern, I find the recent article to be a troubling example of the need for mental-health awareness in the mainstream media. As a friend of the family, I find it a disturbing and totally jarring experience of learning about the death of an incredible kid whom I adored.

Matt had an unusually intuitive way of connecting to others and finding ways to bond. He was warm, funny, and caring, and truly all of the things everyone who met him will say, because he was authentic in his appreciation of music as well as of people. He came by that naturally; his mother is one of the most compassionate people I know.

It is confusing and painful to read what is described by News-Journal writers about his violent actions.

The content of the article insensitively displayed a triggering view of his last moments, which was a personal, highly emotionally charged brief period of time that does not encapsulate the person Matt was.

The author of the article used the Daytona Beach police report in a way that sensationalized the suicide, and it was spread throughout the community very quickly without caution. His family learned about the details of his death from the article, and so many individuals who are potentially battling depression with suicidal ideation did, as well.

While I appreciate that suicide-hotline information was included at the very end, I feel the authors and News-Journal did not do enough to minimize prominence or include important preventive measures, actions that could lead to a spike in local suicide deaths.

The media have a responsibility and the power to prevent harm to their consumers, as you are likely aware and I’m sure very sensitive to, yet this is a case where measures to control impact on the community were not in place.

Clearly my frustrations here are that media guidelines were not responsibly implemented to prevent risk to the public and provide support. But, also, my friend’s death was brutally showcased to the masses without consideration to the people who knew and loved him best.

So I’m asking, what could be done to improve reporting standards at this point regarding mental health?

It’s a hard time for many of us in DeLand, especially the Buth family. Please consider this issue and help to promote healthy media reporting in regard to mental health and suicidality — for Matt and for all those who struggle.

Lisa Rickman