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Pages in Will's World for you to visit:
William's Life and Photo Gallery
William's Interests, Links, and Artwork
Information on Some of the Other Memorials Dedicated
To William's Memory
(Come See the Daylily)
Text of the News Stories Surrounding William's Murder
and the Trials.
An Extensive List of Links and Information
on Sites Useful to Grieving Teens and Adults
Grief and Family Support
Related To Gun Violence
Boards and Chats
Information on the Memorial Scholarship Funds
Links to Other Memorial Sites on the Web. You
May Submit Your Own Memorial Site To Your Loved One Here, As Well
Published and Unpublished Articles Written by Me
Regarding My Own Grief and Sense of Loss.
Talks and Writings
Selected Newsgroup Posts
A "Letter of Demonic Advice" in the style
of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters
regarding the loss of a child and a short story I'd like to believe could come
Information on our book.
More Resources and Materials for Bereaved Families
- Following is the text of some of my writings/journal
notes/newsgroup posts dealing with my sense of grief and loss. I hope that in some small
way, they may be of help or interest to others.
Published as an editorial entitled "Coming Together" in the Richmond
Times-Dispatch, September 20, 1997
On August 12, 1997, my life, and the lives of many others in the
Richmond community, changed forever. On that night, my 16-year-old son, William Jenkins,
was murdered while leaving his place of employment on West Broad Street. For the past
several weeks, I have tried to make sense of this tragedy, and in attempting to deal with
this personal loss I have come to realize that this could have happened to anyone's child.
If, then, this is an assault on our community as a whole, we as people of conscience
living in an ordered and civilized society must construct a response to the question,
"What is it that is killing our children?" And its follow-up, requiring action
on our part, is, "What can we do to stop it?"
For years, I have listened to commentary regarding society's apparent death spiral.
Indeed, according to certain cultural and commercial interests, social degradation is to
expected, even desired, and of course is constitutionally protected. Litanies of
accusations against our elected representatives have been recited. The populace is
fragmented and polarized in order to protect group interests. The rich get richer, and the
poor ever more destitute and hopeless.
Violence, injury, and death haunt our homes, schools, streets, and playgrounds. The media
spin news stories out of control to satisfy an insatiable curiosity about things that
aren't anyone's business. And my son's casket has been lowered into the earth, his life
unnaturally shortened just as he was reaching the age of manhood.
WHAT IS the common thread to these social ills? Nothing other than that we have allowed
some of the most influential sectors of our society to become self-centered, greedy,
insensitive, and answerable to no one. Our society's accountability weighs heavily on me.
During William's funeral I was quoted as saying, "There is nothing wrong with
Richmond that compassion, mercy, love for one another, and forgiveness won't heal."
That is my analysis of the situation, and I believe it to be true.
The landscape of our culture is strewn with social issues, causes, and legal wrangling,
effectively deadlocking social progress in a mire of political inaction. This
superficiality obscures the root of the problem. Passing new laws and restrictions on
personal freedom will only bandage a festering sore. Instead, we must once again learn how
to be men and women worthy of the trust and responsibility that having this freedom
demands. We must know in our hearts what is good, honorable, and sensible, and inject
those virtues into society to effect a cure.
By what standard shall we allow our society to be run? Either we respond with greed and
selfishness to the issues at hand, doing what we want, when we want, and with no regard
for the long-term consequences. Or, we can respond with intelligence, common sense, and
compassion, approaching the issues with forethought and wisdom putting our own
wants aside so we can meet others' needs. I believe in so doing we will find that we may
live peaceably with one another.
I regret to report that we cannot build walls around ourselves high enough to keep the bad
things in life out. Our only hope is to take responsibility to do what is right, and daily
motivate those around us to do likewise.
Each of us can make a profound difference simply by working within our own sphere of
influence. Ironically, the mechanisms are in place to effect change, but we have demanded
that others do all the work without the support or input of those they serve. I admit that
I have been as guilty as anyone else in that regard. There are many distractions that will
pull us off the path of social responsibility, and there are many opportunists who exist
only to take advantage of these lapses in our attention.
I have decided that, inasmuch as I have the resources, only good things will come out of
this tragedy. Please join me in lending your energy to institutions that will benefit us
all and bind us together in hope and unity.
ENCOURAGE the efforts of our places of worship as they enable people to put their faith
into practice. Support our police and justice systems as they enforce the laws that we the
people have enacted for our own safety, holding people accountable for their actions and
behavior. Assist our schools, as they help our children grow into men and women who will
lead intelligent, honorable, and productive lives.
Get involved with the charities, recreation, music and arts programs, and centers that
give adults and children positive, creative activities, and that do wonders to improve
one's self-image. And above all, let us be kind and compassionate to one another, and hold
our children accountable to do the same, for therein lies the hope for the future.
Make no mistake, bringing peace to our community will require an investment of time,
energy, money, and, above all, cooperation and trust. But let us not focus on the things
that divide us.
Let us diligently teach love, mercy, and compassion to all who will hear. Let us stop the
bickering and pettiness that create misunderstanding, and spend more of our time doing for
others before we do for ourselves, practicing that selflessness that builds community
identity. And let us resolve each day to treat each other with the respect and kindness we
would like others to show toward us. For if we do not, then I am afraid we deserve what is
coming to us.
I wish you Peace.
The following appeared as an editorial entitled "Building a Foundation" in
Style Weekly Magazine on October 7, 1997.
Recently, I asked my college freshman orientation class the question:
"What is it that drives our society forward from day to day?" After a little
thought, these young people started to come up with a short list: greed, selfishness,
power and money, with the latter two being the sure way to command respect from others.
I had expected something like this, and I continued with more questions: "How many
want to live a long, active and productive life? How many want to meet presidents and
kings? How many want thousands of people working for them worldwide? How many want their
reputations to live long after they are gone, with schools and hospitals named after them?
How many want the respect and admiration of millions around the world?"
All of these questions received generally positive responses. Surely, this is living the
ultimate American Dream. Surely, this is the epitome of success in human endeavor. Then
came the final question: "It has been recently proven that all of this can be
achieved if you simply give away all you own, begin to live and work daily with the poor,
caring for the welfare of others more than you care for your own. Now, is it still worth
I did not require them to answer.
Of course, we are not talking about athletic stars, musicians, politicians, or corporate
executives here. We are looking at the example of one tiny woman with an enormous heart
and spirit serving Calcuttas poorest people. At the beginning of her ministry, she
certainly did not set out to achieve these symbols of cultural power, but through her
faithfulness and humility, all these were added to her account. In her simple life of
service, she has shown our world that perhaps greed, selfishness, power and money are not
so important after all. Her example to us has been that of compassion, respect, mercy,
love and kindness gentle virtues with overwhelming power in and of themselves to
change the hearts of people everywhere
Recently, I have come to the sobering realization that our community also could use a new
infusion of these gentle virtues. As the father of 16-year-old William Jenkins, who was
murdered during the course of a robbery at the business where he was on the second day of
work, I have had to realize that this tragedy is a result of a culture where decisions are
made according to greed, selfishness and hatred. I ,like many others, have read accounts
of murders throughout the city and counties, and have always felt secure in my belief that
bad things would not reach out to affect me personally.
I was wrong. You cant build walls high enough to keep bad things out of your life.
Instead of building walls, you need to start at ground level. You need to build a
foundation a foundation of personal faith and belief that will stand firm in the
raging winds and waves of adversity. A foundation that reaches out to support family and
friends, buttressing their lives, as they, in turn, buttress you. A foundation which
extends even to the far reaches of the community, supporting the collective efforts of our
society to protect itself, caring for and giving hope to those who lack even basic needs,
and giving freely that kindness, respect and compassion to which we are all entitled by
virtue of our shared humanity. Indeed, our community needs to heed the example of Mother
My sons life was cut short by an unkind act. It was a tragedy, but one that I hope
will motivate us to action. I have decided that, inasmuch as I have the resources, only
good things will come out of this. I will do whatever I can to help our society change the
standard by which it is run from greed and selfishness to compassion and kindness.
I will try to touch the lives of those around me with patience, kindness and forgiveness.
I will ask my students to re-evaluate their concept of what makes the world go round
and I will try to be an example to them, as others have been examples to me. I will work
within my sphere of influence and encourage others to work within theirs, until our
ever-widening ripples begin to overlap, and we begin to see the violence begin to
evaporate, simply because there is no human heart in which it can live.
Is this too much to hope for? Is the result unattainable? Perhaps. But the journey itself
is far more important than reaching the end. As with Mother Teresa, it is in the trying
that we prove what kind of people we are. And good will come of it.
Please join me. Teach love, mercy and compassion to all who will hear. Let us begin to
satisfy others need before we gratify our own wants. Let us build unity and
communication across all social barriers in order that we may live in peace with one
another. let us resolve every day to treat each other with the respect and kindness which
we would like others to show toward us. And above all, let us teach our children to do
likewise, for therein lies the hope for our future.
I wish you peace.
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