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A most gracious man

All too rarely we see examples of people whose love and grace shine above what we normally see in the world. This week we saw one of those.

On Monday, December 8th, a Marine F/A-18D fighter experienced a power failure on approach to Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego. The pilot ejected, and his plane crashed in a nearby neighborhood, destroying a home and killing the occupants – Young Mi Yoon, Grace and Rachel Yoon, and Young Mi’s mother, Suk Im Kim. The father, Don Yoon, was away from home at the time.

Normally in situations such as this, we see outcries to punish the government, the pilot, or anyone who could serve to take the blame and be the scapegoat for the unfortunate event that occurred. The public’s thirst for blood normally takes over and is stoked by the outcries of the media. But in this case, it hasn’t happened. At least in part, this is a result of the gracious and loving attitude of Mr. Yoon.

The LA Times published a great story on Friday describing Don Yoon’s response to this family tragedy. Rather than criticizing the pilot and/or the government for his loss and any potential fault, he showed love in his response. Yoon said

“I heard the pilot is safe. Please pray for him not to suffer from this accident. I know he is one of our treasures for our country. I don’t blame him. I don’t have any hard feelings. I know he did everything he could.”

In fact, Yoon blamed himself, as he spoke of his father-in-law on the way from South Korea to grieve for his lost wife, daughter and granddaughters. “I don’t know what to tell him. I don’t know how he’ll ever forgive me.”

Hardly a typical response to such an event. At the scene of the crash, Yoon said

“I know there are many people who have experienced more terrible things. Please tell me how to do it, because I don’t know what to do.”

Adrian Hong, the author of the LAT story, responded perfectly:

He showed us exactly what to do, and reminded everyone watching of the better angels of our nature.

Exactly. We need to learn from Mr. Yoon’s example. When faced with adversity and tragedy, we should not look to blame. We should try to avoid self-pity. His strength, grace and respect for his father-in-law and the F-18 pilot showed an attitude we should all strive for.

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