J. Arlen Ecker
West Point, 1989
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Drew Bartkiewicz on January 27, 2010:
I knew Arlen best in the intensity of our youth, eager to accomplish, anxious for what lie ahead and laughing at insanity along the way - despite the collective inner fear we all carried of failing.
Arlen did not fail either in friendship or accomplishment. He was such a smart guy in our company at prep school and the most casual amongst us about his academic success. Though we saw each other rarely after WP, I will miss the chance to share his wit at our reunions. I will miss the occasional emails of one-liners as he tried (successfully) to find humor in the world he experienced. Most importantly, I will miss his valuable perspective on growing older and pursuing meaning, purpose, and inner peace long after we all went our separate ways. There is one less of "us" amongst us, one less father to teach his children, and for that I am deeply saddened.
Arlen Ecker was a West Point cadet in every sense of the word, and he later carried the weight of being a West Point graduate as best he could. I am convinced through some email exchanges with him - and knowing Arlen - that he strove for a life of decency, honesty, and consequence, which is the weight we all carry. And remembering the Arlen of 20 years ago I am sure he carried that weight with courage and silence, humor and love. To understand that still waters run deep is to appreciate the person of Arlen Ecker.
Arlen wrote to me in 2007 the following:
"It is such a cleansing experience to drink from the well. I do not spend enough time at the well as I should...As the years go on, that year we spent at the prep school just becomes more and more meaningful to me in ways I hadn't foreseen."
We will miss Arlen because we will miss his awareness of what bonds so many of us.
Perhaps any fear we have at this stage of life is no longer a fear of failing. Our fear now is not being able to fully grasp, appreciate, and profoundly enjoy drinking from the "well" to which Arlen referred us.
In honor of Arlen Ecker and to offer courage to his children, Ryan and Jack, let's try to drink from this well more often...and perhaps share it with one another when we do. Arlen I believe would have liked that.
Be thou at peace, Arlen.
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