John was, in a word, a soldier. An elite and decorated combat medic, John was killed in Iraq earlier this year. His full name was John Cook. A devoted father, loved one, and man who dedicated his life to serving the country, John was killed just days after he was scheduled to leave for trial on child pornography charges.
Despite his tragic death, John’s life was dedicated to others. As a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, John was given the honor of giving the last Salute during the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In addition to his Army duties, John had been a Navy Seabee for 23 years. And as if that wasn’t enough, the loss of his son has also rocked the community of Mount Vernon, New York. John lived in Mount Vernon for the last 20 years. In the summer of 2007, John and his family moved to Mount Vernon to start a life outside of the area’s rural areas.
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Now, many in Mount Vernon are feeling burned out and demoralized by the repeated positive attention the community has received over the past two years after John’s death.
According to The New York Times, John’s death came as a disappointment to many locals.
“It’s like waiting at a golf course for a hole to be closed when there’s no longer any golf,” said Dan Wells, chief executive of the Mount Vernon Housing Authority. “There is no beginning to golf when you close one hole.”
However, for a community of police officers, firefighters, and an army, the demise of John’s life and death have also hurt their sense of being part of a larger nation, the Times wrote.
“You just don’t have a memorial that they’ve all said their names and that not everyone has been there to say it,” said Tyshawn Stansbury, who hired John to work at the fire department. “I like that it’s a bigger thing than the individual.”
Mount Vernon mayor William Massey attributed John’s death to the toll addiction and gambling can take on a person. He said that while addiction often hits black communities, so, too, has poverty.
Massey also highlighted that the company John worked for, Ebbets Field Funeral Home, was a small business with a limited number of employees and small profits.
“John was the only one so far we’ve identified who was being directly involved with the young clientele he’s associated with,” Massey said. “We’re trying to establish lines of communication, without any suspicion, to find out who and what they’re doing.”