He wanted to be an engineer, the stories report. He was taking flying lessons. He got A’s and B’s and was majoring, said his teacher, in cheerfulness.
Tom Wolfe, more cynical than I, notes in “The Bonfire of the Vanities” that every kid who dies unjustly and too early retroactively transforms into an honor student with presidential aspirations. This is not quite fair to their memory either, but it is the debt we owe the dead.
Dead children, dead kids, often carry with them the burden of our outsize hopes. “He could have been president,” one commentator noted. He could have been an astronaut. Hope can cast shadows as massive and false as those cast by fear.