Doing the right thing. Speaking up. Looking out for those
less able to defend themselves.
These are qualities embodied by a man I grew up knowing,
and, throughout high school, was proud to call my friend. In fact, he was a lot of people’s
friend, and still is today.
His name is Brian Laguardia. You might recognize it, if you
grew up in the nineties in Manhattan and went to certain public schools, or if
you read the New York Times last
week, where he was interviewed in a piece called “Suicide’s Rising Toll,” talking
about his experiences as a soldier in Iraq in the 1451st Transportation Company.
As I understand it, Brian was only months from the end of
his inactive regular Army reserve duty when the Army recalled him to active
service. He could have fought it; he had a good case and the resources to make
it stick. But he didn’t fight it. He dropped everything and went to war.
And along the way he became comrades with a tight-knit group
of men; one of whom he felt had no business being in Iraq, due to an unstable
emotional history. Brian did his best; he notified the Army authorities before they
were deployed, and again expressed concern for his friend’s mental health after
their return to the States. He tried to protect his buddy, and he did
everything he could against an enormous and faceless bureaucracy to get his
friend find the help he needed.
Unfortunately, the Army dropped the ball, and Brian’s
comrade committed suicide; a horrendous human tragedy.
Though the outcome may not have been uplifting, and I’m sure
Brian would probably be embarrassed I’m making a big deal about him, I’d like to
nominate my friend, Staff Sergeant Brian Laguardia, as my personal Moral Monday
The reason? We need more guys out there like him. Stand-up guys.
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