Point of View: United

A time to reflect

Jordan’s Run, in memory of a young hero, wasn’t of course just a race, but a time to reflect. 

The memory that our government’s incursion 14 years ago into the cradle of civilization was impulsive, with profoundly tragic consequences, only serves to compound the suffering it has spawned and to widen the circle of compassion that attends it, even unto the small towns where the death of a soldier — a Marine in this case — comes, as Joi Jackson Perle said the other day, as a shock. 

And so it was that when Steve Xiarhos, a police officer from West Barnstable, Mass., with whom I’d been talking near the finish line, took off from his wrist the bracelet commemorating his son, Nicholas, who, like Sag Harbor’s Jordan Haerter, had also given his life in the Mideast, I said, truly, that I was not worthy.

He gave it to me still, saying, “I think you are, I think you have a good heart.”

“Maybe it will make me stronger,” I said, putting on the band, which said, “Cpl. Nicholas G. Xiarhos, USMC, 7/23/2009 * Garmsir, Afghanistan.”

“Maybe I can help others more. . . .”

I was deeply touched, deeply affected. I asked, “How old was your son?”

Twenty-one, he said. “How old was Jordan?”

“Nineteen.”

Nick, who was to die in combat 15 months later, had been one of those saved by Jordan, who stood his ground and fired when a truck packed with explosives was speeding toward the Marine barracks in Ramadi, Iraq, in the early morning of April 22, 2008. That act of heroism, of self-sacrifice, earned him, posthumously, the Navy Cross.

The rightness or wrongness of our representatives’ decision years ago is beside the point, which is that Jordan and Nick were honorable, and that they have united us in suffering and in compassion and, yes, in the joy that was so evident at the foot of Pierson’s hill that day, July 30, which would have been Jordan Haerter’s 29th birthday.