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 downin tall grasses,and even elephantslumber after safety.
When great trees fallin forests,small things recoil into silence,their senseseroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,the air around us becomeslight, rare, sterile.We breathe, briefly.Our eyes, briefly,see witha hurtful clarity.Our memory, suddenly sharpened,examines,gnaws on kind wordsunsaid,promised walksnever taken.
Great souls die andour reality, bound tothem, takes leave of us.Our souls,dependent upon theirnurture,now shrink, wizened.Our minds, formedand informed by theirradiance,fall away.We are not so much maddenedas reduced to the unutterable ignoranceof dark, coldcaves.
And when great souls die,after a period peace blooms,slowly and alwaysirregularly. Spaces fillwith a kind ofsoothing electric vibration.Our senses, restored, neverto be the same, whisper to us.They existed. They existed.We can be. Be and bebetter. 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.