20 August 2010

Go See DC: Painful Reminders

(NOTE: This is the first in a series of re-postings about DC)

While visiting DC this past weekend, we stopped for a while at The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. One of the most notable features of the memorial is a series of panels with the names of fallen officers inscribed. But, with 17,500 names it becomes detached and impersonal. Technically, you know they had parents, spouses, kids, and friends and are missed in deeply meaningful ways. Similarly you know that those names represent valiant deaths and decades of service. But, unless you are there with someone already in mind, you just see the large white walls and don't identify the individuals.

I encouraged our students to get a paper and pencil a do a rubbing. I looked for one that was close to home and recent. I found Dwayne Reeves who was a Newark Schools Police Officer.
Dwayne Reeves was a father. He was a hero. The trials that followed revealed the sorts of problems that continue to plague Newark:
Dwayne Reeves, a 35-year-old father, was shot in the head at close range because Kahlil Tutt's teenage sister, Jalisa, got in a fight with some girls at Weequahic summer school and her brother went looking for revenge. A man died because of a high school catfight, no matter who pulled the trigger.
It has an unpredictability and senselessness that makes it so hard to prevent. And it has a gravity that can't be accessed on your first stroll through the monument. Remembering Dwayne Reeves makes the other 17,500 names seem more real too.

If you go to DC this fall, I would strongly encourage you to  take the short walk over to this wall and make a rubbing.  When you get home, look up the fallen officer's story.  As an aside, the original posting of this back in 2007 has remained a regularly visited story - clearly Officer Reeve's story remains important so some.

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