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Joan Duran: Remembering a fallen angel

Have you ever met someone who was larger than life, someone who could fill a room with his smile and energy simply by being there? We have. His name was Joan Duran, and he was our friend, our teammate, and a fellow alumnus of Boston Latin School.

Following his graduation in 2002, Joan enlisted in the US Army. As was the case with everything he did, Joan quickly earned the respect of his colleagues and served with them for four years. Joan planned to continue his service to the public by becoming a math teacher following his second tour of duty in Iraq, but unfortunately his promising life came to a sudden end when he was killed on Aug. 10, 2007, in Baquba, Iraq.

Death is never easy to take, but it becomes even crueler when it takes a young life full of potential, vitality, and hope. Joan’s character and his quintessential “can-do” attitude were of the highest quality of our generation and his death has been deeply felt not only by his family and friends, but by the entire Boston community.

However, from tragedy comes hope. Our group of young Boston Latin School graduates, who individually had the privilege of knowing Joan, and who realize that there might come a day when students at the Latin School would not remember our friend’s brief but bright life story, has formed the Joan Duran Remembrance Committee.

Two years after his death in a war far away, the legacy of Joan Duran has been revitalized. A member of Latin School’s senior class has told us that his senior paper will be a biography off Joan.

But our ambition stretches farther than the present; we want to ensure that 50 years from now, future generations of students from our alma mater will know that a special young man once walked the halls of our schools and then gave his life to his country. Our goal is the creation of a permanent Joan Duran Boston Latin School Prize Night Scholarship, to be awarded annually to a member of the graduating class.

This is no mean task we have set for ourselves. The endowment requirement for a Boston Latin School Prize Night Scholarship is, at a minimum, $50,000. The committee is kicking off its fundraising efforts beginning with a night of solidarity at the Boston Teachers Union Hall this Saturday, Nov., 7, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is open to all, but if you can’t make it, we’d appreciate your financial support as we work toward our goal of making sure the name Joan Duran will always be remembered and his short life, so full of service and accomplishments, will be rightly celebrated. Stay tuned for future event announcements in the weeks and months to come.

If you would like to make a donation to the Joan Duran Scholarship Fund, you may send a check or cash to: Joan Duran Remembrance Committee, Attn: Daniel Weissman, PO Box 961484, Boston, MA 02196. For more information or to get involved, check us out by e-mail at BLSRemembersJoanDuran@gmail.com.