When Great Trees Fall: A Memorial to Clint Vaught

    A great poem by Maya Angelou entitled When Great Trees Fall provides refuge for most in times of grief, a place of serenity when it seems that nothing is left. She gracefully writes how when the greatest fall, the effect is tremendous. But what they leave us is a powerful memory of their life and lessons. They’re the kind of lessons that speak to us in the midst of trouble, that comfort us in the midst of despair, that give us strength in the midst of weakness. They’re the kind of lessons that Clint Vaught will leave us all. He taught us to “own the moment.” He taught us to speak. Not only just to speak, but to speak with poise, confidence, and personality. Because of Mr. Vaught, trembling hands and shaky voices grew resolute with his guidance and our purpose was solidified… dignified. In that moment… in our moment, we realized that Mr. Vaught was more than just our teacher. He was our friend, our mentor, and our hope that we might become the speaker, the orator, the person he saw in all of us.  

    When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou

    Remembering Mr. Vaught

  • Mr. Vaught’s sudden passing
  • Memorial: When great trees fall
  • Memorial: A life-changing mentor
  • Memorial: Our memories of Mr. Vaught
  • Memorial: A Poem to Mr. Vaught
  • Video postcard to Mr. Vaught
  • Editorial: Advice on dealing with death and grief
  • Memorial for Mr. Vaught held at YPAS
  • Footage from Mr. Vaught’s memorial
  • When great trees fall,
    rocks on distant hills shudder,
    lions hunker down
    in tall grasses,
    and even elephants
    lumber after safety.

    When great trees fall
    in forests,
    small things recoil into silence,
    their senses
    eroded beyond fear.

    When great souls die,
    the air around us becomes
    light, rare, sterile.
    We breathe, briefly.
    Our eyes, briefly,
    see with
    a hurtful clarity.
    Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
    gnaws on kind words
    promised walks
    never taken.

    Great souls die and
    our reality, bound to
    them, takes leave of us.
    Our souls,
    dependent upon their
    now shrink, wizened.
    Our minds, formed
    and informed by their
    fall away.
    We are not so much maddened
    as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
    of dark, cold

    And when great souls die,
    after a period peace blooms,
    slowly and always
    irregularly.  Spaces fill
    with a kind of
    soothing electric vibration.
    Our senses, restored, never
    to be the same, whisper to us.
    They existed.  They existed.
    We can be.  Be and be
    better.  For they existed.

    Rest In Peace Mr. Vaught. 

    Julian E. Wright is part of the duPont Manual High School Class of 2013. Currently, he’s Managing Editor of ManualRedEye.com and as a reporter for Manual AM. He hopes to study at Columbia University in New York City and major in Economics & Religion with a special concentration in Human Rights.

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