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fence he had built long ago caught his body, now more bent and wrinkled than ever before. As the man gasped for air against the shaky wooden fence The Breathings of My Heart post he looked back down the road Creative Writing Samples For Middlebury toward the Prepared house. TheCollege door he had walked out every morning since the day he was born stood ajar. His mind had long ago forgotten memories and names, but in this penultimate instant, everything flashed back. The doors in his aged brain crashed open. blueprints, first and second drafts god created on the earth ones he thought would last but god made his one and only maybe the last chance to help watching the smoke pile into the blue as it speeds away hoping the little Joseph D. Allaire D.O.B. January 22, 1993


Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LETTER ………………………………………………………………...…………………………..…3 REMEMBRANCES……………………………………………………………...………………………4 MEMOIR OF A LOST AFTERNOON…………………………………………….…………………..........4 GLASS…. ………………………………………………………………...……………………...........5 ODE TO A SAILOR……………………………………………….……………………………...…….5 THE DASH BETWEEN YOUR DATES..…………………………………………….……………........…6 WISHING DANDELIONS…….…………………………………………………………………........….7 THROUGH YOUR INTERCESSION..……………………………………………………………....……11 THE QUEST TO ―SPEAK FREE‖……………………………………………………………………...12

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Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

DEAR READER, There is a journey to writing. Whenever I present something I have written to my mother, she flows into voiced memories of her baby boy, sitting endlessly and carefree in the corner of the playroom, gazing into the colored pages of Owl Moon, Panda Palace, and I‘ll Love You Forever. I could not yet read on my own, but I had made my mother read them to me so many times that I could stare into the eyes of the Great Horned Owl with the same awe as the child in the words. When I began to read on my own, my parents would be hard-pressed to break me away from a book, even to eat – the words were nutrition enough. To this day, my family and friends know that books are the best gift to give me. Then I began to write. Simple stories at first, tending towards the fantastical and magical. Something changed in my writing as I entered high school – something deeper than the escape from the adjective ―very‖ and the arrival of a richer vocabulary. As I began to feel deeper things (a phenomenon high school inevitably brings) I found that writing could be a channel to a more profound understanding of those sentiments. For me, writing unwraps and liberates an otherwise ambivalent and constrained feeling, revealing to the writer and the reader some truth about the human experience. One of my favorite poets, William Wordsworth, wrote, ―Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.‖ In the following pages, I have selected four poems, two stories, an essay and a newspaper column to share with you. These words are the breathings of my heart from the last four years. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than sharing with you these creations. I truly hope you enjoy them, and I welcome any feedback.

Joseph D. Allaire December 2010

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Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

REMEMBRANCES Wait, does it stop when the train leaves the station? A kiss on the head, a shake of the hand, and it‘s ended? Help carry the bags, maybe the last chance to help Watching the smoke pile into the blue as it speeds away Hoping the little memories are not melting into the gray clouds. Months pass, wandering and wondering, ‗til one day the train arrives again Thumbs twiddle, nervous paces on the waiting deck Who will walk down the steps, embrace me at the gate? The same one I trust, look up to, know? Or some diluted altered version to whom remembrances are lost?

MEMOIR OF A LOST AFTERNOON The heat of the day splashes my body I can see only with drunken clarity Brought on by the sun‘s feverish spell Flames over a camper‘s pit The sun wilts me like the last breathe of a summer flower Heat, pulsating, exhausting, wave upon wave The scorching stillness of the baked air Slowly eats away at my desire For movement, for action, for interaction I remember those days as a child Sitting in the back of a choked classroom Fanning my face with a failed exam I feel my body transform Lose shape to sticky sweat Droplets trickle along the curvature of my naked fatigued chest My tired heart forgets a beat I look out to the hopelessly bright and sunny sky As I cook on the warm grill of the lawn

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Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

GLASS

after months of careful planning blueprints, first and second drafts god created on the earth ones he thought would last. but god made his one and only error when he made them out of Glass.

ODE TO A SAILOR I commend the Sailor, For his careworn life, For enduring all the storms and strife. Through me, each wave cuts like a knife. I wish each day That some poet wrote, “This damned life is like his boat, Striving hard to stay afloat.” He navigates, By His dark-sky lights. But north can be east on the darkest nights. And the pitiless waves mock his crippled sight. “Man overboard!” Some silhouette yells. A flailing body lost in Hell. What a story of terror he’ll have to tell. But Ishmael, Nemo, Captain Cook, Could not withstand this wind that shook My pedestaled pride from its high nook. I commend the Sailor, Oh, I sing his song. But wonder if my sea’s too strong For even him to paddle on.

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Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

THE DASH BETWEEN YOUR DATES Newspaper Commentary My friend closed his phone and turned to me. With calm voice but troubled eyes he said, ―My cousin just killed himself.‖ Earlier that day I learned that another friend‘s mother had died of cancer. It was two days before Thanksgiving. Later that evening I imagined the families of my two friends gathered around their Thanksgiving tables staring at the empty chairs that would not be filled again. I was quieted by a sadness I could not overcome until Sunday morning‘s Gospel. Matthew wrote of the swiftness and surprise of death, ―Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left...You do not know on which day the Lord will [call].‖ The evangelist also offered an insightful warning to his audience about how to prepare for this. ―If the master of the house had known the hour of the night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you must also be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.‖ The extrapolations from Matthew‘s passage are two. On one hand he warns that we might be the ones taken from this life at any time, and on the other hand the ones taken might be our best friends and closest family. Since our lives on Earth could be over at any time, we should spend out time here fulfilling our dreams, creating a bucket list and slashing off one by one the things we wish to accomplish before we move on. Whether it‘s speaking Chinese, traveling the world, or playing the guitar, we have a limited amount of time to achieve our goals. Of course, that is important to bear in mind; but the other implication of the passage struck me deeper in light of my friends‘ recent losses. The way we treat our friends and our family must revolve around the notion that every second spent together is precious because at any moment our time with them could run out. This does not mean that we should go through life feeling as if every morning we may wake up to find our friends gone. Rather, it reminds me of something Prep has been teaching us all along: we are called to be men of compassion. This means doing everything I can to help my friends and to show them that my relationship with them matters deeply to me. Ms. Lehn recently shared with me a simple poem by Linda Ellis that is useful here. The poet speaks about a man describing his friend‘s tombstone. She writes, He noted that first came the date of her birth And spoke of the following date with tears But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. The irony of a tombstone, an insignificant line incised between two overshadowing dates, is precisely what Matthew cautions against in his passage. While the emphasis seems to lie on the days of birth and death, the years in between are truly the times that define a person. To find comfort in the reality of mortality, our own and our friends‘, we must reallocate the weight from the dates to the dash. While the two implications of Matthew‘s passage seem at first separate, something Ms. Hanes said in her eulogy for Mr. Drozd this summer reveals their inherent interconnectedness. She gave thanks for the small things he did throughout his whole life that, added together, formed a bigger thing: a beautiful, memorable life of love. Mr. Drozd knew the simple truth that in treating others with compassion he would be able to move on from this life with a greater sense of achievement than with the completion of the most ambitious bucket list. He understood what Ellis‘ poem said: ―What matters is how we live and love / And how we spend our dash.‖ I know a sign when I see one. The recent passing of my close friends‘ family members was meant to remind me to show my friends and family my love for them because I cannot know ―the hour, nor the day‖ when I or the people I love will be called from this life. 6|Page


Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

WISHING DANDELIONS Short Story Last night it had stormed. The soggy world outside the house dripped with the aroma of moist soil and wet leaves. Broken twigs and torn flower petals were scattered across the dirt path from the house to the main road in the distance. Last night‘s winds had driven off the heavy clouds and now the blue was hugely uncontained and the sun had reasserted itself in the sky. James walked down the stairs from the house. His tiny hands hugged his mother‘s and father‘s on either side. His bright red hair glowed in the renewed sunshine. Behind these three countless aunts and uncles, cousins and friends followed out the ripped screen door and down the path. All were looking their finest in their Sunday best. Suit coats, ties, flowered hats, dresses, loafers, heels. Mamma was dressed up in her Easter dress and crowned with a big orange hat. Pop was wearing his suit coat, which was faded around the elbows and didn‘t quite fit him anymore. His face was clean shaven. Little James, who felt like a small animal lost in a forest of towering trees, had been forced into a miniature suit that had been worn by countless cousins on their own First Communion days. Grandma had squeezed him into the suit while Mamma was setting up tables of food in the parlor for the reception after the ceremony. James felt the buttons of the white collar constricting his throat. He struggled but his chubby fingers were no match for the rock solid knot of the tie that had been locked on his neck. As they continued down the dirt path towards the town in the distance, James‘ battle against the expertly tied knot persisted. Defeated, he looked with helpless eyes at his smiling mother. Seeing her son trying to escape from his cloth perfection, she swiftly slapped his hands away from his neck. She squatted next to him and fixed what damage he had done to his suit. She straightened his shirt, adjusted his tie, and wiped a small warm tear from his intense blue eyes. ―Leave it be, Jimmy. You look very handsome. Just leave it all alone for a little longer. I promise you can take it off as soon as the party is over.‖ She patted him on the cheek. ―Ok, Jimmy?‖ James broke away from the group of smiling relatives and ran down the path a little farther. Once far enough away to quiet their chatter, he slowed his step and walked along the side of the path kicking broken branches out of the way. He stared out across the fields rolling from the slouching hills that only weeks ago had been speckled with the yellow headdresses of dandelions. The changing weather had chased off their brilliant color, leaving the magical white skeletons of the flowers to dot the grass and blow whispered wishes to the heavens. He heard voices ahead of him and raised his glance to see from where they were coming. In a tree a ways in front of him James saw a boy and a girl sitting on a sturdy-looking branch. From this far James could only see that the boy had bright red hair like his own. He watched them. *

*

*

Close to her chest the girl grasped a simple envelope. She had run from her house as soon as it landed in her mailbox. She had waited every day by her mailbox since applying. Finally it had arrived. She and James had decided to apply together last spring. They had locked themselves in his bedroom and spent endless hours studying for the test, filling out the innumerable forms, reading each other‘s personal essays. They had shared the petals of a wishing dandelion to carry their twin wish, and they had waited. Together they broke the seal of the envelope and pulled out the letter inside. James unfolded the paper and read it aloud to his anxious girlfriend. Accepted. She was accepted. As the words were pronounced she nearly fell off the branch with shuddering excitement. ―Oh, Jimmy!‖ she squealed. ―I can‘t wait to go. Only a few more months and we‘ll both be out of here. College, James! Can you imagine?‖

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Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

James smiled at her half-heartedly and nodded. She was gone. He leaned forward and, while balancing on the bough, kissed her softly on the lips. She jerked away and looked at him with obvious concern. ―What‘s wrong, baby?‖ ―Nothing,‖ he said shaking his head. But when she gazed in his intense blue eyes, she knew something was bothering him deep inside. ―Tell me,‖ she begged him. She rubbed his knuckles gently. James sighed. He reached slowly into his pocket and showed her an envelope identical to hers. He handed it to her. While she read it he looked at the ground and swung his legs beneath him. When she had finished reading the brief message she looked up with teary eyes. ―I‘m sorry, Jimmy.‖ James jumped down from the tree onto the dirt path. He said it was alright and jogged down the road to go into town. As he kicked the twigs out of his way he thought about that crummy old town. He thought about going to school in the same building since he was eight, imagining the grassy campuses and chiming chapel bells of the universities. He thought about the tiny white church where he spent every Sunday twiddling his thumbs, imagining the grand churches in the city. He thought about the phony smiles on everyone‘s faces as he passed them on the sidewalk, imagining walking down a street with hundreds of perfect strangers to meet. He thought about the town where he now conceded he would live until the day that he died. He was startled from his self-pity by shouts behind him and the sound of the screen door slapping against the frame. He turned to watch the spectacle unfold. He thought for a moment their home was being robbed. A car in front of the house came alive and sped down the road toward James. Quickly, he jumped to the safety of the grass. As the car passed in a rush, James caught a glimpse of the man driving inside. A middle-aged man with glasses and fading red hair. He was completely unfamiliar to James. *

*

*

The man in the car put all his weight on the gas pedal but the little old car was giving her all. He had been down this dirt road so many times in his life he knew every turn and hole like the back of his field-callused hand. He turned his attention to his wife in the seat beside him. Her dark hair was plastered against her forehead. She breathed in quick rhythmic bouts with a trembling hand placed gently on her enormous belly. She chuckled through the gasping breathes. Looking into James‘ fierce blue eyes she said, ―Here she is, Jimmy dear! Our first baby. Oh, Jim—‖ Her sentence was interrupted by a mighty contraction. She clenched her fists and whimpered, throwing her head back against the seat. James secured the wheel with one firm hand, reaching out with the other to comfort his wife in pain. She found his hand and squeezed it tight until the pain had subsided. ―I‘ll get you there, honey. Hang on a little bit longer.‖ ―I know. Talk to the baby, Jimmy,‖ she asked him. James looked into her golden eyes. He couldn‘t deny her. He thought he would look silly, but wracked his brain for something meaningful to say on this occasion. He put his hand on his wife‘s beautiful stomach. His wife beamed adoringly. ―Hello, baby. It‘s your Papa. It‘s almost time for us to see you!‖ Under his hand he felt the motion of life inside her stomach. Suddenly emotion flooded his thoughts. The pressure of the last months seemed to all be rampaging from the back of his mind to pour out in this moment. ―I hope you get out! I will help you. I am your father, and I will do everything I can to give you a better life. Oh God! Please let my baby get out of this place and make someone out of himself!‖ He was nearly shouting at the child inside his wife‘s womb now. James gasped in shock at his own outburst and looked to his wife. She was moaning in pain, fighting another contraction. 8|Page


Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

―I‘m sorry,‖ was all he could say. Something snapped James‘s attention back to the road beyond the windshield. A procession of black clad men and women were marching along the grass. He rolled down the windows to get a better look. He heard them singing. Not a chorus by any means, but rather broken harmonies and twisted melodies in an assortment of keys. He listened to the haunting words. “And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings. Bear you on the breath of dawn. Make you to shine like the sun. And hold you in the palm of his hand.” His mind searched its index for this song. He knew he had heard it. Before James could remember it being sung at his mother‘s funeral, he saw six large men carrying between them a casket of polished wood. Walking in a huddled group before the grim box was a broken family. In the center of the tightly compacted group was a man in a fading black suit. His back was slightly bent, spectacles sliding down his wet nose. Under the man‘s black hat James could see the remnants of red hair. *

*

*

A gloved hand from a black-clad family member snaked around the mourning man‘s shoulder. A chill slithered across his bending back. Trembling hands clenched a crumpled song booklet and his powerless mouth hissed the words to the hymn. ―I‘m so sorry, James. I really am. Your wife was a wonderful woman. I have so many beautiful memories of her. Remember the time…‖ James turned his face from the consoling voice and looked into the infinite sky. It seemed to James that every person in the town had dressed in their nicest black suits and gowns to share with him a memory of his wife. This depressed James. Nearly every person had come to visit him in mourning. Every one of them knew him and his deceased wife. James thought of the funerals in the cities. The gloomy family and friends seated in a towering church. The misery contained behind the wooden doors. Millions of others walking the streets outside in bright clothing and with smiles on their faces. Their world doesn‘t stop when one old heart does. James saw in the grass next to him a wishing dandelion like the ones he had scoured the fields for as a little boy making all sorts of impossible wishes. His wrinkling hands picked it from the ground. He placed it on his wife‘s casket, slowly making its journey into the earth. As he was carefully arranging it among the other flowers a gust of wind swept down the road. The white parachutes scattered into the wind. James‘ wide blue eyes watched them swirl around his head, riding on the gusts of breeze. Suddenly overcome by emotion and longing, James fell on his rickety knees into the moist dirt of the path as the last tiny remnants of the flower escaped from the stem into the bigger world. With the help of his three sons he heaved himself to his feet. As he raised himself up he saw near the end of the dirt path an old man approaching. A very old man. He was shaking. *

*

*

One of the old man‘s arms reached out and grabbed the stake of the white fence while the other clenched his chest. His breathes were deafening. His pale hand clasped his heart relentlessly. His arms, legs, and body began to quake. The fence he had built long ago caught his body, now more bent and wrinkled than ever before. As the man gasped for air against the shaky wooden fence post he looked back down the road toward the house. The door he had walked out every morning since the day he was born stood ajar. His mind had long ago forgotten memories and names, but in this penultimate instant everything flashed back. Tears flooded from his eyes as memories resurfaced. 9|Page


Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

Through the wetness of his face he saw a tiny boy also in tears running toward him from the end of the road. The boy was outfitted in a small suit. In a tiny fist he held a bouquet of wishing dandelions, each crowned with a magical white crest. The old man stumbled forward and stopped the boy before he reached the end. ―What‘s the matter, boy? Stop your crying now!‖ ―I hate it here!‖ he protested. The very old man shuddered at the child‘s words. With the last power he had, the old man released the knot of boy‘s tie and listened to the freeness of his breathes, for a second forgetting the tightening constriction of his own. ―Thank you,‖ he wiped some of the tears from his chubby cheeks. He handed the old man the bunch of wishing flowers he had picked. ―Here, make a wish.‖ The very old man blew the flower into a million soaring wishes one last time.

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Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

THROUGH YOUR INTERCESSION Autobiographical Short Story ―Blessed Seelos, through your intercession please cure Aunt Marianne‘s cancer, ― we prayed in unison over pot roast and mashed potatoes. For months we chanted this desperate refrain over dinner, on the way to school, at the side of our beds before sleep. But even as I recited these words of devotion out loud, I silently cursed God for creating the human so breakable. Five months ago I came home late in the evening from a show at school. I was still smiling from a lively conversation after the performance. I found my mother, m y father, and my sister with bowed heads and fingers racing up rosary beads. They sat on the cushiony chairs of the living room in a tight circle. ―Joey, Aunt Marianne has cancer,― my dad informed me. My mother would have told me, but I could see she couldn‘t speak a word. The skin beneath her eyes was puffy, and tears still escaped over her eyelids. She had been crying for a very long time. They hadn‘t told my cousins yet. ―Those girls are going to need you to be strong for them. It‘s a really tough road ahead,‖ my dad explained to my sister and I. It pained me to think about them watching a movie together, pushing through homework, or laughing over a split glass of milk unaware of something that would change their lives. I didn‘t have a rosary, but I joined my family in prayer. When I went to sleep that night, I didn‘t cry. The next day I was working at the kitchen table when Jeanette pushed through the front door with her backpack on her shoulders. Her eyes were wet but drying. My mom, pulling the door quietly shut, entered behind her. My youngest cousin moved slowly through the foyer with heavy slides of her shoes. In the kitchen, she slung off her backpack. It struck the wooden floor with a thud. It was obvious she had heard the news. I wouldn‘t learn until later that her mother had called in person; Jeanette, sitting on the steps of her school, had listened to the voice of her mother deliver the verdict of cancer. Squatted beside her backpack, Jeanette struggled to untangle the spirals of two intertwined notebooks. Finally, with a frustrated cry, she shoved them back between the zippers and collapsed into tears. Her shoulders shook. Her hands smothered her face. Her ankles gave way, her knees hit the floor. I was the first to help her to her feet. In my embrace she tried to say something. Conquered by her attempt to communicate, she buried herself into my chest. Her hand pulled my shirt around my shoulder until it nearly tore. I didn‘t cry. I had to be strong for her, I remembered. I didn‘t cry but my eyes got wet. That night, with Jeanette and her distressed family down the street, I talked to my friend. ―Don‘t tell anybody about Aunt Marianne yet,‖ my mother had asked. But I needed someone to talk to. ―After the show tonight we found out…‖ I typed into my phone. I waited in silence. Buzz. ―One new message from Jimmy,‖ the screen read. As I read his reassuring response, I genuinely collapsed, as Jeanette had done in my arms, into tears. I thought about Jeanette, but there were four more. I could imagine Jeanette and Joanna asleep together on the family room sofa. I could imagine Juliet and Janine huddled in their Notre Dame dorm room. I could imagine Eugene racing home to hold his mother‘s hand. As I sat in my bedroom, I realized that not just the human body is breakable, but the soul is, too. Seeing my mom crippled, fingers fumbling about her rosary, holding Jeanette‘s convulsing body in my arms, and feeling my own wet cheeks and burning ears – I felt broken. 11 | P a g e


Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

THE QUEST TO “SPEAK FREE” Advocacy Writing It felt as if I would never be happy again, as I sat in the elephantine armchair (which seemed designed to belittle the sitter) waiting for the Dean of Students to arrive and ―deal with me.‖ Two periods ago I had bounced in to school laying out stacks of what I thought would be a masterpiece: the Halloween Spoof edition of my high school‘s Little Hoya Newspaper of which I am the Co-Editor-in-Chief. As frightened as I was of what the Dean would say, I was mostly disappointed that a few members of the school administration could not take a joke. After all, the faculty moderators had approved every word of the publication. Nevertheless, the trashcan in the Dean‘s office overflowed with crumpled newsprint. Looking at the box of undistributed papers in the corner next to me, I felt that all good-natured humor was being confiscated and silenced by what, in my disappointment, appeared an unduly oppressive administration. As I began reading up on the rights of journalists and learned more about the policies at other high schools, I became acutely aware of the limited freedoms and amount of censorship faced by the Little Hoya. A few months after the ―Spoof Newspaper Fiasco,‖ as it would go into Georgetown Prep history books, the Little Hoya staff traveled to New York City for a conference of high school newspaper editors at Columbia University. After attending a lecture on censorship in the media, we realized that our newspaper lacked something vital to any journalistic publication: a constructive pursuit of truth designed to promote dialogue and improve the community. In an article I wrote upon returning from the conference, I noted: Our mission as [student] reporters is to give a voice to all members of our communities not just the leading point scorer, star of the musical, and latest service project leader. We now realize that in our attempts to publish a non-inflammatory newspaper we too often fail to hear the voices of the members of our communities who do not ―fit the mold.‖ Full of zeal for this new and worthy cause, I set out to explore topics which would promote campus dialogue about critical issues, planning articles about everything from dress code regulations to homosexuality, from bullying to drug use. I quickly realized that the path to greater press freedom and dialogue on campus would be challenging when the administration found even my post-conference mission statement (quoted above) too inflammatory and refused to let it be published. After recovering from that skirmish, I reconnoitered and printed an article about what I expected would be a less controversial issue on campus. The administration had given disciplinary notices to several students for violating a rule prohibiting students from wearing boots during the winter months. The rule was understandable on its face as a way to assure that students‘ attire reflects the appropriate respect for the institution and learning. However, much of the campus was under construction and riddled with puddles and muddy inclines. Even this unpretentious prod put the Little Hoya in hot water with the Dean‘s Office once again. I and my Co-Editor-In-Chief felt quite alone in a controversy which few other students on campus had any interest. Then, support for my effort to broaden the allowable areas of dialogue on campus came in the form of a letter to the editor from a respected faculty member. He wrote, ―What you have decided to do, it seems to me, is to provide us with articles – both stories and ‗commentary‘ – designed to get us thinking and, as a result, talking – and listening – to one another.‖ The evolution of our school newspaper from a vehicle for ―public relations‖ to a constructive force on campus continues. And, like any well-researched journalistic piece, there are two sides of the story of this evolution which must be told. From the administration‘s perspective, there is an appropriate desire to maintain a respectable image to alumni, benefactors, parents and prospective students. I understand that 12 | P a g e


Joseph D. Allaire

D.O.B. January 22, 1993

as a private institution, which pays for the newspaper‘s publication, the administration has valid claim to content control. From a journalist‘s perspective, I feel the school is missing the point. The newspaper does not aim to degrade the school with these articles, but rather to open a tried and true window to improving the institution‘s weak points. The role of a journalist, whether in a private or public school, is to open dialogue through exposing and providing opposing views of policy and practice. Exposing truth and seeking to solve problems and injustices, I feel, are significantly more important objectives than merely maintaining an institution‘s stainless image. The only way to bring about change and improvement in a community is through open discussion. In an effort to assure the administration‘s voice will be heard, The Little Hoya has assured the administration that its comments and positions will be solicited prior to publication and that any letters it wishes to submit in response to any article will be published. As a result of these efforts, I am acutely aware that the issue of censorship faces my school community with each newspaper we publish. I am aware of my personal vulnerability in this effort – a student‘s future can be jeopardized by pushing too hard for change. This sense of vulnerability – of fear – has opened my eyes to the gravitas of this problem on a grander scale and the courage of journalists who pursue freedom of expression. But the risk is worth the reward. When journalists‘ rights are limited or non-existent, a society fails to progress and the freedom of all its citizens is diminished. Since the genesis of democracy, writers have recognized, appropriately, that freedom of speech is the sine qua non of a flourishing society. Euripides, a classical Greek playwright, penned that, ―This is true liberty, when free-born men, having to advise the public, may speak free.‖ Later, in the 17th century, John Milton wrote a speech that would become the ―Bible‖ for supporters of free speech and free press, Aeropagitica. He famously wrote, ―Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.‖ As nations around the world embraced democracy, their governments consistently advocated the rights of free speech and press. ―Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom,‖ states the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Our own Constitution prohibits the government from impeding the same freedoms. Despite all the ink that has been spilt in support of free speech and a free press, a shocking proportion of the world lives in fear of the consequences of their every word. On a trip to the Newseum in Washington, D.C., I gaped at a wall that showed the shocking number of nations in which reporters have few if any rights. Not surprisingly, these were the countries whose problems often grab the world‘s attention: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, China. The Freedom House Organization, a group dedicated to the promotion of human rights around the world, declared in its 2009 report that 83% of the world‘s population lives in nations which prohibit some or all of the rights of journalists. I submit that the effort to increase the freedom of the press in my high school is worthwhile. Our expectations as to the extent of the freedoms which a private high school will grant to its newspaper must be realistic. Yet, each step along the path will open the window somewhat for future editors. More importantly, the very act of engaging in this effort will highlight the paramount importance of the free expression of ideas and hone our awareness to the worldwide struggle to maintain and protect that singular path to, as it was put more than 2000 years ago, ―true liberty.‖

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The Breathings of My Heart  

A collection of personal writing by Joseph Allaire

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