To The Daily Sun,
I have been asked by many of my classmates, loyal Belknap County residents (as Laconia High had enrollment from Gilford, Gilmanton and Laocnia in those days), loyal Sachems, always, loyal Americans, to write the following:
The LHS 1965 yearbook notes, "Loyal member of the clarinet section . . . works at the Spa, keeps him busy . . . inseparable partners, he and his car. Band 1,2,3,4, All State Band, Future plans: Manchester Technical Institute."
That was written more than 50 years ago, to memorialize Jay Hurd, our classmate. On September 1, 1966, 50 years ago, Jay Hurd would lose his life serving his country in the land of Vietnam. He was a member of the United States Army. He served his country at a time when there was a threat of communism taking freedoms away from us. We were told the country of Vietnam was a pivotal area of the world to combat the spread of communism.
We had just left the halls of Laconia High with many dreams, many fears and many excitement of youth. We had been given the skills to make our opportunities vital for us, out of respect to our families and for our future families. Some went to work, some to college, and many went to serve their country.
We had been educated about the values of our way of life — the natural gifts of our lives in the Lakes Region, the storied examples of our parents in the events of the Greatest Generation, and the blessings of our freedoms. We had experienced a president being assassinated. We had heard about the Cuban missile crisis. We were told of the close proximity of that threat.
We were exposed to nightly news programs which did not sanitize the news from the Vietnam War, thousands of miles from the tranquil streets of Laconia. The journalists talked about the numbers of the U.S. fighting forces. The journalists talked about body counts of Americans and Vietnamese. The journalists did not speak of being "embedded." They brought the streets of Quay San into our living rooms; they brought us to the rice fields of the Mekong Delta like they were our back yard; they brought the bombings to our living rooms, showing the napalm intended to clear the jungle greens but also dropping upon human beings.
In this war, Jay Hurd went with bravery, with youth and with conviction to make a difference at an age similar to those of the Greatest Generation. He held the same convictions of those who fought in World War II and previous conflicts, to preserve our way of life, to ensure for our country the freedoms that have separated us from the rest of the world.
Some gave some, but he gave all of that first day of September 1966. He would not be the last of Laconian to make that sacrifice. Jonathan Whittecom, another member of the Class of 1965, would give his all, as would Jim Sawyer, Peter Morrison, Bobby Ahern and others who have given their alls for the rest of us. Nick Cournoyer of Gilmanton would give that sacrifice most recently.
They served proudly. They would leave their dreams for another generation; they would leave their families to dream of what ifs. They would leave us with a huge debt to each of them for their ultimate sacrifices.
What separates our paths will be left to the Almighty. What gives that piece of paper in Washington such meaning is the county's men and women serving their country in order that we can all enjoy our lives in freedom. As I often speak, we all owe a special reverence to the meaning of that document when we continue to ask men and women to give their alls for the preservation of those freedoms.
We commit ourselves never to forget you, Jay, and we hop that he is somewhere he can again work his wonders on an automobile.
We commit ourselves to always remember our classmate, our neighbor, our hero.
James M. Carroll
For the Laconia High School
Class of 1965
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