Remembering SPC Clarence Adams.
Spc. Clarence Adams III has been a part of my daily life for over two years. He has been present since the day that a black bracelet with his name arrived in my mail box. Now each morning I wake to slip the twisted metal cuff onto my wrist. I don't go anywhere without him; I mean to keep him with me for a while.
It was a long while before I felt the right to find out anything personal about Spc. Adams. I wondered if in some way that wasn't an intrusion into a man's personal life and a family's grief. Spc. Adams didn't know me, and I don't know what we would have made of one another had we met. And so for a time I simply wore his name. Anyone who asked about the bracelet was given this explanation: that it was a HeroBracelet and that the proceeds from these bracelets went to families of fallen soldiers. There was never much discussion after that. Still, I hoped that people might take a moment to remember that this bracelet reflected one soldier's life.
In September of 2005 I attended a march in Washington, DC. As I walked the streets, I saw a line of laminated photographs strung togther, threading along one side of the march. They were pictures of the dead, a moving memorial to soldiers whose names were still unread by nightly newsmen and whose service to and sacrifice for their nation remained largely unacknowledged. I tried to move forward, to see if they had remembered to include Spc. Adams among these names, but couldn't keep up with the steady procession of photographs. One year later, I found Spc. Adams' name on a makeshift "˜wall' in my town, the grey letters hand-painted on a black tarpaulin. So many names have joined his since.
For a while, Spc. Adams stood for every soldier. His presence never failed to remind me that some of the boys I taught were now moving on to military careers. Then one day I looked him up, "˜googled' his name, and learned. I learned that the Army had been his career. I learned that Spc. Adams shared his birthday with a friend of mine, and that he had died in Iraq the day after his 28th birthday. I learned that he had a wife, and five beautiful children, and a twin sister. I learned a great-hearted man's nickname, and smiled. Mostly, I learned what I already knew: that I did not know Spc. Adams - but that I would have liked to have had that chance.
Some people have asked when I will stop wearing his bracelet. The short answer is, when the war ends - when they can all come home. But the reality is, I don't honestly know.