'Was it worth it?' A fallen Marine and a war's crushing end

SPRINGVILLE, Tenn. — Gretchen Catherwood remembers the worst moment of her life: three Marines and a Navy chaplain were walking toward her front door, and that could only mean one thing. Her 19-year-old son, Marine Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood, was dead, killed fighting the Taliban on Oct. 14, 2010. As she watched the news over the last two weeks, it felt like that day happened 10 minutes ago. The American military pulled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban took over, and in an instant all the battles fought and sacrifices made seemed to be for nothing. Gretchen Catherwood's phone buzzed with messages: from the officer who’d delivered the news of her son's death; the parents of others killed in battle or by suicide since; her son’s fellow fighters in the storied 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, nicknamed the Darkhorse Battalion, that endured the highest rate of causalities in Afghanistan. Friends told her how horrible they’d felt that her son had died in vain. As she exchanged messages with the others who’d paid the price of war, she worried its end was forcing them to question whether all they had suffered had mattered. “There are three things I need you to know,” she said to some. “You did not fight for nothing. Alec did not lose his life for nothing. I will be here for you no matter what, until the day I die." The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment deployed in the fall of 2010 from Camp Pendleton, California, sending 1,000 U.S. Marines on what would become one of the bloodiest tours for American service members in Afghanistan.

Music industry weighs vaccine mandates, but politics collide

The coronavirus vaccine gave the live entertainment industry hope for a rebound in 2021. Now, as COVID-19 cases surge and hospital beds fill up, it feels like March 2020 all over again. Tom DeGeorge runs the popular Crowbar club in Tampa, Florida, that once hosted about 300 concerts a year, mostly touring bands. He managed to stay afloat and reopen last fall, hosting about six shows a month. But with cases surging in Florida, show cancellations have racked up and attendance has plummeted. “The amount of people that are coming out right now is I’d say about 25, 30 percent of what it should be,” said DeGeorge. “I have a feeling that I’m probably going to lose the majority of my fall and winter calendar, but I’m basically already mentally prepared for the worst-case scenario.” In hope of salvaging and surviving another devastating year, the industry is moving rapidly toward vaccine mandates for concertgoers, event staff and crew. In some instances, fans are being asked to show proof of vaccination or a negative test — such as for Harry Styles' upcoming fall U.S. tour. But the politicization of the pandemic and vaccines have dealt venues like DeGeorge’s another heavy blow. Across the country, there are a myriad of state and local rules that regulate when and where mask mandates and vaccine requirements can be enforced.

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