I don't know the man's name. He was a Japanese construction worker crushed when an earthquake hit his island nation. He is among the first known dead. Two others died. One was a man who packed up his gear and went fishing along a river. It sounds as if it was a leisurely pursuit, perhaps his passion when on a holiday. As he cast his line across the water, the ground rumbled and he was buried by a landslide and killed. A third man was in an office building, also busy with his life, but when the shock occurred he panicked, ran outside and was run over by a truck.
I don't know the names of any of the departed, only that death came when they least expected it. There were no other details given of their lives, of their families or accomplishments in life. They are just footnotes of a disaster, their deaths mentioned ironically to give a sense of life to the reporting of an earthquake in Japan.
Oh, and Tim Russert died suddenly of a heart attack.
Some will be eulogized at private gatherings, a man like Russert will be eulogized publicly perhaps for days, mourned and praised and remembered by millions, most of whom never met the man. Others will be just a small obituary in a local newspaper. Some will not be noted at all.
Death is no respecter of persons. Your position means nothing to the Grim Reaper. You may have fame and power and riches or be poor and humble and unknown, it matters not. To each of us it is appointed once to die and most of us know not when. It isn't important if you leave a memorable legacy in this world, such as Tim Russert leaves, or if you have disappeared from history as a lost name on a weather striped tombstone. What matters is whether you were prepared for life beyond your death and in which books of God's your name is written.
Think about this when you tune in "Meet the Press" next Sunday and see Tom Brokaw where Tim Russert should be, if you are still alive on Sunday.
Pray for the Russert family and for the families of those lost in Japan as well.