Somewhere deep beneath the fabric of the many flags that waved through the village last weekend, lay the nearly unspeakable heartbreak of losing a loved one, an only son, a friend to many, a faithful Marine.
Lance Corporal Jordon Haerter, age 19, was laid to rest at Oakland Cemetery on Monday with full military honors and rain from the heavens above. The Marines in attendance took great care when folding the flag that had draped Jordan’s coffin, to brush off the raindrops before presenting it to Jordan’s mother Joanne.
We learned that Jordan had an early interest in the military and had chosen military-inspired costumes for Halloween. Shortly after high school graduation he announced his decision to join the Marines, “because it’s the hardest,” he said with characteristic determination.
In a letter his family received the day before he was killed, Jordan wrote, “We’ll do an outstanding job over here and then come home.” Though Jordan was in Iraq for less than a month, he did do an outstanding job. He managed to protect other soldiers in the final precious moments of his own life when he was killed in a suicide bomber attack. The parents of a soldier he shielded traveled to Sag Harbor last Saturday to offer condolences to Jordan’s parents.
The Reverend Steven Howarth led funeral services for a full house of mourners at the Old Whalers First Presbyterian Church after a weekend of solemn ceremony that turned the town away from its usual distractions to focus on the grim effects of war. Jordan’s schoolmates from Pierson’s class of 2006 offered songs led by Nancy Remkus on guitar.
In his charge to the young people, Reverend Howarth quoted from a poem by Archibald MacLeish, “Young Dead Soldiers.”
“Our deaths are not ours, but yours,” the poet wrote. “We leave you our deaths; you give them their meaning.”
In helping to give meaning to Jordan’s death, the Reverend urged those gathered to strive to live by the values that Jordan believed in, and to “work for peace.”
Jordon and his hometown are now logged onto the death count: number 4,355, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count of United States soldiers killed in fighting that continues six years after the invasion of Iraq.
Towns across Long Island and around the country struggle to find meaning in these losses. Sag Harbor joins them in grief. Arguably the most somber event the village has endured since September 11, 2001, may the death of Jordan Haerter be the last such tragedy we must suffer.
A blood drive is scheduled for Tuesday, May 6, from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the main firehouse on Brick Kiln Road. Blood donors from throughout the village are encouraged to participate.
Local band Clamor will play a benefit concert at Bay Street Theatre tonight, to raise money for breast cancer research. The music starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $50 each, available at the Bay Street box office, 725-9500. The event will provide some kick-off money for a two-day walk in June, during which participants will traverse 35 miles. Several local residents are training for the walk, which will begin and end at Smith Point County Park.
Southampton Town senior services will host a senior volunteer appreciation luncheon at the Bridgehampton center on Friday, May 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to honor the many seniors who volunteer at the center and with various clubs.
And on Wednesday, May 7, at 11 a.m. volunteer lawyers will be on hand at the center to help seniors with legal questions about health care and finances. Members of the New York State Bar Association will give a free presentation on legal procedures and documents to help attendees make informed health care and financial decisions. All seniors are welcome. For more information, call Liz Dwyer at 728-1235.
Congratulations to Christopher M. Lazar of Sag Harbor, who will be graduating from SUNY Oswego in May. Chris will receive a bachelor’s degree in wellness management.
Sag Harbor’s Boy Scout Troop 455 will host the inaugural Food of the Hamptons fund-raiser on Saturday, May 3, at the Brick Kiln Road firehouse, from 5 to 8 p.m. Many local restaurants and delis are donating food and beverages for the event, including entrées, soups and salads, breads, desserts and coffee. Proceeds will be used to help fund Scout activities. Tickets, $12 for adults and $8 for children 13 and under, are available from scouts or at the door.