CanyonQuests for Vets was created in honor of USMC Cpl. Max Donahue
I had a student named Max Donahue. He had come to the school where I teach, Daniel C. Oakes High School, for the same reasons others had before and have since: he was disillusioned by school. Not education, school. That often dehumanizing, machine-like culture we misguidedly use as a vehicle for education. Max hated school. But he loved education. He was a smart, passionate young man who was liked by everybody. He moved me.
I am reminded of Max when I read a short essay in a great little book called Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In one essay, author Robert Fulghum writes about an experience he had in Crete while attending a peace institute. The man in charge of the institute brings humans together who have serious disagreements, disagreements that often lead to bloodshed. He connects humans who are deeply disconnected. At the end of the seminar, this man asks if there are anymore questions. Fulghum shoots up his hand and asks a question he often asks during moments like these, mostly to get a laugh, but also to see if he can ever get it answered: What is the meaning of life?
Surprisingly, the man takes the question seriously and moves forward to answer. When I was a child, he said, I carried around a small mirror. For fun, I would use the mirror to shine light into dark places. As I grew, and I took on the work I do, I realized that ultimately, that was what I was doing. I was attempting to shine light into the dark places of the human heart. That, he said, is the meaning of my life.
Max, was that kind of man. His was a light that penetrated the dark places of the heart. He had that kind of effect on you.
Fulfilling a life-long dream upon graduation from D.C. Oakes, Max joined the USMC. He became U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Max Donahue and served his country as a military-police dog handler. On August 4, 2010, Max and his dog triggered an improvised explosive device. On August 7, 2010 he died from the wounds he sustained in that encounter. Max was a good man, a good son, and a good Marine. He was also my friend. CanyonQuests for Vets was formed in honor of Max. It was formed because I believe he would approve of what we do. CanyonQuests for Vets hopes to do what Max did, to shine light into the dark places of the human heart by taking them to wild and remote places and playing in the dirt.