Courage isn't just found in the stories of war heroes risking their lives for their fellow soldiers. There are people on this planet who live with the risk of getting shot at just for taking a wrong turn in their neighborhood. There are people who, when they get home every day, find new bullet holes in their walls from drive-by shootings. These people look outside their windows and see drug dealers making their money. No, this isn't taking place in some foreign country. Hey, it's not just taking place in New York City. It happens in the small city of Providence, Rhode Island.
Street violence is a problem in many cities like Providence. It affects not only the lives of those involved, but also the families and children in the areas where this violence occurs. There was an 18-year-old boy who lived there. He was trying to turn his life around, to make something of himself in this world. This ex-high school dropout was repeating ninth grade for the third time. He never gave up even when all his friends were "those" drug dealers. Through the help of the School-to-Work Program, he got a minimum wage job at a local firm: Finkel, Disanto, Sciuto and Martin (my father's). He was the only kid on his street to wear a tie to work and he did so with pride. He rode the bus to work every day after school and sometimes even walked. This boy chose his hard-working, minimum wage job over taking the path of the drug dealers. Maybe his luck was changing, maybe not.
This boy was Ivy Love and on December 20, 1992, he was shot and killed at his home by a fellow student. I don't expect you to know this unless you're an obituary reader. This may not sound too out of the ordinary, given the neighborhood he lived in. But it's probably something you didn't know and something you probably should know. Ivy is one of the many victims of street violence in this country. It needs to stop.
Though his story is known to few, Ivy Love was a great hero. It took a lot of courage for him even to attempt to change his life. It's a shame it ended so soon. Well, Ivy, you did make something of yourself. Your legacy lives on as an example of true courage, sending a message to all who are willing to listen, "Keep trying; no matter how rough the road looks. Never give up!" Ivy was a living example of true courage and purity in a sinful environment. Though you won't find him in any history books, Ivy Love is a hero. Q
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.