All of Piscataquis mourns the loss of one of its greatest treasures, her youth. A young man named Dacano Arno drowned recently in the currents of Sebec River. Even for those such as myself who did not know the boy personally, there is an overwhelming since of grief at the loss of promise, talent and personhood that we experience as a community. A parent’s heart aches for the grief that those that bore him, nurtured him and now say goodbye to him feel in their hearts. For this there is only love and prayer for a balm.
But as we all grieve in our several ways, let us not lose sight of the heroism this young man showed. Caught in the grip of a treacherous current, he still thought of his friend above himself, pushing him to safety. It is this test of courage that has shown the mettle of so many brave young men. Dacano is not the first, nor will he be the last, to pass this hallmark of bravery on his way to eternity, but, for Piscataquis, he is ours. For, with all that is wrong in our Nation, Dacano Arno represents what is right.
There are still brave young men who fight for this Nation on the battlefields of war and for their friends in the rivers of the Maine wilderness. Their courage is the same. It runs through their core. And it is the backbone of who we are and how we stand.
General Patten once said that we should not mourn the loss of brave young men, but, rather, rejoice that such men lived. I suspect it would be near impossible not to grieve this loss, even for a hardened old general. But I do rejoice that Dacano lived. That he left behind an example of leadership, selflessness and love of his fellow man for his friends to follow.
I did not know this young man personally, but he is a tribute to his parents, family and friends. It is easy to see what manner of man he was by his final act, tested in the crucible of death. At his core, this young man lived by this timeless truth: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend.”