Loganville lost one it's finest sons on Wednesday. Major Walter "David" Gray of the U.S. Air Force was killed while serving in Afghanistan. Though currently residing in Colorado, and most media outlets listing him as being from Conyers, David was from Loganville. He graduated 20 years ago from Loganville High School in a class of 120 some-odd people.
In times of immense tragedy, people from all walks of someone's life emerge and attach themselves to it. I don't mean that to sound as negative as it seems...it is very human to feel loss. The desire to share kind words or try to offer comfort, even when it is unsolicited. So it is with LHS, Class of 1992. I hope that the big show of love from those of us who knew him two decades ago provides some comfort to those who hurt the most...his wife and three children, his brother, his folks. His brothers in arms.
I must disclose the truth that he and I were not close. I'm not sure we could even have been considered friends back in those days. Like most of the folks I went to high school with (other than social media) I haven't known him since. Funny thing, that. When a great space of time passes without contact, people just stay the way they were, in your mind.
This is kind of unsettling, because that means to some of you, I'm still that scrawny, awkward doofus in the comically big glasses and ratty REO Speedwagon shirt, whose carefully planned witty remarks melt into a mumbled "uh-arr-duh......Hi!" around the girls. Great.
That makes David, on the other hand, the easygoing, confident, good-natured guy who looked like he was from Korea, but talked like he was from Loganville. Smart and well respected by the teachers and students, he was one of those guys who just seemed to have everything figured out...grades, sports, friends, girls...everything.
Of course, I didn't really know the guy that well, so any eulogy from me is inadequate. We weren't really friends, but he had a lot of qualities I wish I had back then. I looked up to him. So, a few years ago, when a "friend" request popped up on my Facebook page from him, the scrawny teenage nerd in me took that as a big compliment. A few "hey man, how you doing?" type interactions ensued, but that was about it.
Still, the bond that is school is a strong one. Even though we ran in different circles, only a few people can claim that school, those years, as our own. He was one of us.
Looks like he did well for himself as an adult - a highly-decorated military officer with a beautiful family. By all accounts, he never lost his confident, easy-going spirit. I am honored to have a small link to this brave warrior and fine man. I hurt for his family, his squad mates and those who truly call him "friend."
He will not be forgotten. Ever. Not by his comrades and those who loved him the most. Not by the grateful county he died serving. Not by his proud hometown.
Not by us. He was the best of us; we will never forget.