LOGANSPORT -- It was a day for the type of parade that should be held every Veterans Day, but it was held on Sept. 12 and not Nov. 11.

This was just one veteran's day.

It spanned two counties and it involved a quartet of A-10 fighter jets and an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 motorcyclists.

It was the day Indiana paid tribute to Corporal Humberto Sanchez, the 23-year-old Marine who was one of the last soldiers to be killed in Afghanistan, literally in the waning hours of the U.S. occupation.

A mural on the McDonald's where he had worked on the west side was one of the many silent tributes to a hero. But there were others, including dozens of yard signs paying homage to him. Proceeds from the $20 purchase price of each sign will establish a scholarship in his name. Ninety percent of the reader boards on business signs read simply "Thank you for your service Cpl. Sanchez."

The real tribute came from hundreds of residents who stood for more than two hours on a route that started at Grissom Air Reserve Base and continued northwest through Walton and Anoka to Logansport, the largest Indiana city under 20,000 according to the recent Census. 

It could not have been more quiet or solemn when the funeral train carrying the body of Abraham Lincoln wound through Indiana communities, stopping literally for only minutes at every town for a brief viewing and a prayer. There was no calling for the Sanchez funeral Sunday, but the entire city felt as if it was paying its respects. Every network was represented here and the half dozen Kokomo Police motorcyclists who led the procession splashed a wave of red-white-and-blue halogen through the sultry wind of a September afternoon.

There were no protests. There were only tributes.

There was no talk of the reaction to the first state trooper to be killed in the line of duty who hailed from here, but there were comparisons to the funeral of Glen Hosier, a former state trooper who was killed in the line of duty in Peru.

While there were thousands who never knew him, there were thousands who knew he was one of the last Americans to die in the nation's longest war. His death was similar to the death of Frank Sinatra in "Where Eagles Dare" decades ago, or Sal Mineo's in "Giant" which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. But those were movies. This was real.

This was about a young man who played soccer and who was remembered by Logansport soccer team players who all wore his old jersey number when they played Lafayette Jeff last week. It was about a young man who served his country and guarded an embassy, and had he lived another week would be out of one of the most dangerous places in the world. -- maybe the most dangerous.

The reality of this day when there were yellow ribbons tied to every utility pole along the route is that the death of an American soldier always cuts deep and it's remembered, even when we have forgotten wars like the Korean Conflict. It doesn't matter that Congress never declared a war in Afghanistan. The casualties declare the commitment of young men and women better than politicians and history books. The people who pay our future with theirs are the most unselfish among us, though not the highest paid. They don't star on network television shows, they don't make lucrative endorsements like college athletes and you won't see them in commercials.

Time erases many things and makes memories obsolete eventually. But the death of a young man serving his country and the senseless actions of terrorists who kill indiscriminately are atrocities that time hasn't yet found a way to subdue.

Rest in Peace is what we all hope for, but living in peace is the American oddysey that continues to elude much of the world.

Because of men like Umberto Sanchez, the sacrifices have not been in vain.

Kitchell is the former mayor of Logansport.