By Ralphine Major

The first news report I heard said Knoxville.  The next one, Corryton.  A third identified him as a Gibbs High School graduate.  United States (U.S.) Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss was one of the 13 American heroes who died in the recent attack on Afghanistan.  It was reported that the outstanding young patriot who was only 23 years old had received several awards including a Purple Heart.

It was heart-wrenching to hear about Ryan as well as the 11 U.S. Marines and Navy corpsman who made the ultimate sacrifice as they were trying to rescue American citizens as well as Afghan children and adults who had helped the U.S.

I saw pictures of these young patriots shown with their families in happier times.  They left behind parents and siblings, spouses and children, and even a child that is due in the coming weeks.  This is the second time a national tragedy has struck our rural community of Corryton, Tennessee.

On September 11, 2001, Tony Karnes, another Corryton native and Gibbs High School graduate, lost his life when the Twin Towers were destroyed.

I knew Tony and his family, but I do not know Ryan or any of his family.  Yet, I grieve for these young lives lost and struggle to understand how this national tragedy befell our great United States.

I join other Americans in praying for God’s comfort on these families, for protection over those still in danger, and for peace to prevail in our world.

I was touched by the heartfelt tribute Justin Pratt, Senior Pastor of Clear Springs Baptist Church in Corryton, Tennessee, wrote following the death of Army staff Sgt. Knauss.  With his permission, I am sharing a part of it with Focus readers.  It should give all of us pause to reflect on life: “Today I woke up to a beautiful East Tennessee morning in Corryton, Tennessee.  I took my oldest son to his golf lesson at a golf course in Corryton, Tennessee.  I had a couple of hours to enjoy the pool with my youngest son in Corryton, Tennessee before I perform a wedding and enjoy celebrating the evening with my family and friends, again in Corryton, Tennessee.

“Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will attend church, worship, and preach the Word of God, FREELY, in Corryton, Tennessee.  As I’ve reflected on all of the beauties that I’ve enjoyed today and this weekend, my heart grieves to be painfully reminded that I’ve enjoyed it at the expense of others who gave it all.  I’m getting to live out dreams today, that a young man from Gibbs will never get to.  It makes my heart hurt.”


In Words of Faith the pastor shares scripture from John 15:13 (KJV): “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”