Two years can seem like a lifetime, or a nano-second. It all depends on what you are doing and when you are doing it.
It was early on Thursday morning, Dec. 8, 2010 when I was contacted by Aubry Bracco then the Salem Patch Editor. She informed me that a Salem soldier had been killed the day before in Afghanistan. It seems like it happened yesterday.
Initially I was skeptical as it had been a long time since Salem had experienced a death in actual combat. We had grieved with Beverly, Marblehead and Swampscott as they buried their own heroes, but had not yet been touched directly with the death of one of our own.
This was the first time that Aubry and I worked together on a Patch article. Between the two of us we were able to verify that Sergeant Ayube was indeed a Salem resident who had served in Company H, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. Patch came together as a team that week as we accumulated information, covered the funeral and spoke with the Ayube family.
During the last two years the war in Afghanistan has been relegated for the most part to memory. This despite the fact that over 700 more Americans have been killed there during 2011 and 2012. 379 of those were killed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). The once controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay is still operating despite some recent efforts to close it.
The war may be forgotten but the memory of James Ayube Jr. and those others who made the sacrifice needs to kept fresh. We cannot afford to allow his dedication to his work be forgotten. Only James understood his reasons for enlisting into the Army. It is easy to understand however, that once he got in, he dedicated himself to the mission and the people he worked with in his unit. He seems to have been that kind of a man.
A true soldier, or sailor, or Marine doesn't fight the enemy just for flag or country or to achieve some sort of idealistic pablum uttered by a President ensconced safely thousands of miles away in Washington.
A real soldier, a true warrior fights and sometimes dies so that the soldier next to him can live. That is what James Ayube did. There is no greater testament or remembrance for a soldier than to say that he died trying to save the lives of other soldiers.
In an age when very few of the young men and women of our country choose to serve, it is important that we honor those that do. As you read this sons and daughters of Americans serve in harms way in Afghanistan. Many also serve in supposed safe assignments in places like South Korea. We must remember them.
We should not forget Chris Piper of Marblehead, Jared Raymond and Jennifer Harris of Swampscott, and Stephen Fortunato of Beverly. They chose to serve and brought the war home to their communities.
James Ayube Jr., chose to enlist, chose to be a combat medic, and two short years ago brought the war home to us. We mourned as a community and supported his family when he came home.
We must will not forget his service or his sacrifice.