I am new here. I may have grown up the next town over but that was forever ago. Anyone I would have known is gone. Alan’s friends from Temple… Marty’s friends from running track… The girl Matt Dunn stole from Alan… That girl, Piper that I had a crush on from the drama fest… Long gone, all of them.
I certainly didn’t know Jared. He graduated high school two years ago. Many of my colleagues knew him. A few were broken up over this. The impression I get is that he wasn’t a great student but he was a nice kid, polite. Didn't deserve to die. That could describe anyone. It could have described me.
I went downtown to stand with the students. I didn’t have to. Jared wasn’t my student. I didn’t know him. I mostly have freshmen, many of which didn’t know him. I didn’t have come in today. I could have taken the day off. I could have worked from home and caught up on lesson plans. I could have done any number of things on this sunny warm New England autumn day. I didn’t do any number of things. I stood with the community and watched them bury a child.
During my job interview the principal said to me, “I’m not hiring people who want a job. I’m hiring teachers who are going to become a part of the community.” I liked that and agree with it. It turned out to be a big a selling point to me. So I stood there, not to impress the principal but to join my new community.
I stood there under a giant American flag as the caisson passed with Jared Raymond’s body covered under a smaller flag and thought of the investment the community put into Jared Raymond as he grew up. I thought of the time his family spent with him and the dreams they had for him. I thought about the education the community offered him. I imagined him playing in the park the same way the children played today before their parents told them to stand still as the horses pulled Jared’s casket by. It’s a shame America wasted that investment on a war we have no legitimate business fighting.
Tomorrow school will begin like usual. The news helicopters wont be flying over Humphrey Street. For all, Jared will be a memory. Another family, perhaps from the mid-west or perhaps from Salem will get their own sad news. Another lesson we won’t have learned. Another investment squandered. Another dream cut short. We don’t belong in Iraq. We don’t belong in Afghanistan. We don’t belong in Iran. We need to bring our children home alive.