I can’t help but think of Jared Raymond on this day when our last combat troops leave Iraq. Jared and I worked together at Camp Rotary, went to the same school for a handful of years and were teammates (I’ll never forget the time when he flipped out after being pulled from the mound during a no-hit bid even though he had given up six runs on walks, hit batters and wild pitches in three-plus innings). He was a real good kid: the man of his house, always friendly and the type of person who stood up for his own. Even when I transferred to St. Mary’s, I’d still run into him at parties and around Swampscott, and it was always good to catch up.
When I found out that Jared had been killed by an IED in Balad on September 19, 2006, I was sitting in the pre-production studio at WRGW. I never agreed with any of the different rationale presented for entering Iraq, but that wasn’t why I was filled with so much sadness and anger on that day almost four years ago. I thought about the personal impact - not just the loss of Jared’s life but the burden that his mother would now carry with her in an empty home. When I read that he was inspired to join the military after 9/11, I really lost it, as it had already become apparent that Iraq had nothing to do with the destruction of the World Trade Center, the attack on the Pentagon or any of the other awful things that happened on that horrible date in American history.
May we continue to look after our soldiers and their families, both home and abroad and in times of war and peace, and may our leaders show more wisdom and restraint when it comes to sending our young men and women into harm’s way. Most importantly, let us never allow ourselves to forget about Jared and other real heroes like him.