I had been on the road most of Thursday visiting board members of the St. Johns River Alliance. No radio. Just quiet and an occasional phone call.
Arrived home and flipped on the news. Something was terribly wrong. A major general at Ft. Hood, Texas was describing a mass casualty event. A gunman - a soldier - had opened fire at the readiness center killing a dozen or so people, mostly soldiers who were preparing for deployment overseas and wounded scores more. Soldiers - all volunteers - killed at a military installation not in a war zone.
Details emerged. The shooter was an Army psychiatrist, an officer recently promoted to major.
Gayle and I sorted through our military family friends - if any had been at Ft. Hood, they were now gone. Some are heading there in December for training before deploying.
The details now are widely known now and some are still emerging. I won't rehash them here but in all tragedies there were heroes: a brave police officer, a PFC taking wounded to the hospital in his pickup truck, a soldier with PTSD unloading stretchers at the hospital.
The next day, I came home for lunch. A friend - an extraordinary reporter for the San Antonio Express News - was supposed to be on CNN to talk about the Ft. Hood tragedy.
Flipped on the news. Again, something was terribly wrong.
A gunman - a disgruntled ex-employee - opened fire on former colleagues in an Orlando, Fl. office building. One dead, five wounded. Gunman on the loose.
Interstate 4, the main artery from Florida's east coast to its west, shut down. Much of the business district shut down.
Another mass casualty event.
The firm under attack was Reynold, Smith & Hills, which is headquartered here in Jacksonville. Two of its senior executives, one of whom I've met, were in the Orlando office Friday. The gunman eventually surrendered and the authorities have not released the names of the wounded.
Meanwhile, it's Week of Valor here in Jacksonville. The Blue Angels are screaming up and down the beach this weekend. Parachute demonstrations, a mock amphibious landing, and air show displays and a gaggle of recruiters.
Tomorrow, it's Military Appreciation Day at the Jacksonville Jaguars v. Kansas City Chiefs game. Special half-time activities. A B-1 bomber flyover.
Wednesday, 11:01 a.m., it's the Annual Veterans Day parade downtown.
Given the last two days, there will be much to think about as we attend these events:
The unpredictability and fragility of life. The gratefulness we feel for our military who protect our freedoms and the bravery of the first responders who protect our lives.
Prayers are lifted for all the families.
Something's happening here.