Protecting Jair’s legacy: Why the Avneri-Garcia family is with her
Private Second Class (PSC) Jair De Jesus Garcia was born on March 3, 1979, in Granada Hills, California. As a boy growing up, he loved art and music. Maria Luisa Avneri, his mother, took him and his three siblings on trips to museums, plays, and concerts. She still remembers looking over at 10 year old Jair in a darkened theater, his face aglow as he took in his first opera, Madame Butterfly.
“He was very loving, very helpful. No one that met him ever had something bad to say about him. He was so good. He was really a special child.”
Jair’s love of art and music gave way to football, track, and a passion for soccer in high school. He trained hard and aspired to play for the LA Galaxy one day. After graduating he took on various jobs, but always felt something missing.
After the attack of September 11, 2001, he contemplated the idea of joining the military, but was persuaded by family to wait.
“My son was wonderful. He knew since he was young that he wanted to do something for our country.”
Finally, in September 2007, he approached his mother and stepfather, Jacob, and told them he was ready to serve; nothing would persuade him otherwise.
“One day he came to me and said, ‘Mom, I think it’s time. I think that I need to join the army.’ I said ‘You need to think about it.’ You have to support your children in whatever they do, regardless if it’s what you want. So he joined, and we supported him.”
He came home a few days later with an Army Sergeant to sign the paperwork.
In June 2008, he deployed to Afghanistan and, on Friday, August 1, he volunteered to lead a humanitarian aid convoy.
“Around 10 o’clock that day, the doorbell rang. One thing I’ll never forget is the female soldier’s eyes. She just looked at me, I’ll never forget those eyes. I don’t remember much that happened after that but I know they told me that he died.”
Jair was killed in action when the Humvee carrying him, three other soldiers, and an Afghan interpreter was hit by a roadside bomb.
“When you lose a child, it’s horrible no matter what. To lose a child that’s a solider is even worse. Every time I see a soldier I think, please God bring him home safe.”
Reflecting on her own son’s death, Maria was especially angered by Donald Trump’s comments toward the Khan family.
“He doesn’t know. How dare you touch that mother?”
Although Maria used to be an independent, she caucused for Hillary in Nevada. She knew we needed a leader with compassion, strength, and empathy.
“I even became a delegate. If there was ever a time to do something as a democrat, now is the time. Regardless of if you’re busy or you don’t think you have time, you need to do something. Talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors.”
Jacob, Jair’s stepfather, feels just as strongly about the stakes this election.
“When Trump won the nomination, I already knew I could never vote for him. I’m a Republican for Hillary. I’m a Republican with her. To be a president of the people, you have to unite the people; you have to work for the people.”