The much-anticipated dedication of the City of West Fallen Heroes Memorial Saturday offered much worthy of praise, including an appropriate speech about sacrifice, loss and resilience by Gov. Greg Abbott, complete with admiration for “the remarkable work the people of West have done to rebuild this community.” But the centerpiece was quite obviously missing. Because of thunderstorms, this engaging hometown memorial — complete with informatively written individual tributes to those who perished in the West Fertilizer Company ammonium nitrate explosion of April 17, 2013 — could be conjured indoors only through a hastily but astonishingly well-produced video of the memorial, complete with scene-setting drone footage, by West videographer Ben Ranzinger.

I am a firm believer in “right to life.” However, I contend that this profound phrase covers much more than the abortion issue that has become its moniker. Personally, I believe that God, not the U.S. Constitution or a Supreme Court ruling, is the final authority on the matter. I believe that a heartbeat is enough to validate personhood and protection for those fetuses conceived in a mother’s womb. Clearly, everyone in America does not agree and so the debates continue.

How does one begin to dry the tears streaming down the ash-stained faces of Parisian Catholics? To be sure, Notre Dame Cathedral is a treasure for the world, for people of all nations and creeds. But it is first and foremost a Catholic church — where the sacraments have been celebrated for centuries, where the faithful labored more than a hundred years to erect a glorious monument to God. To watch this sacred space burn during Holy Week — the most solemn of the Christian liturgical year — stings all the more.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

Barry Johnson, 61, an attorney who grew up in Waco and returned to his hometown from Dallas in March to care for his mother, is a Republican candidate for McLennan County district attorney, a position occupied for two terms by Abel Reyna. Whoever wins the March 6 GOP primary election will face independent Daniel Hare in the Nov. 6 election. Early voting in the Republican primary election begins Tuesday.

Chris Miller, 25, of Waco, investigator for the local Daniel/Stark law firm and a Baylor University graduate, is a Democratic candidate for state representative in Texas House District 12. The seat is occupied by Republican Kyle Kacal of College Station who is running for re-election. Early voting in the Democratic primary election begins on Feb. 20 with Election Day on March 6.