Today was Veteran's Day. I was able to participate in a small community ceremony at the Valley Center Cemetery. Today I was the Rev. Hanson my new identity in life. A different twist in the road after 12 years as a Navy SEAL.
People often confuse Veteran's Day with Memorial Day. There are probably a few reasons, but today it struck me in a new way. Two Veterans shared their story and it was apparent that their memories of their time in the service (one still active duty) were related to their friends--especially the ones who have given all.
I know this is true for me today. I will never be able to hear the Star Spangled Banner the way I did before my naiveness concerning freedom was lost. Before June 23, 2003 it was fairly cheap. Yes, I knew that people had sacrificed all for this great country of ours, but none that I have ever known. This all changed on that dreadful day.
It was on this tragic day that I received one of the worst calls of my life. I had just come off my 12-8am shift of working Hellweek and had hit the rack when Jake called. He fought to insure that I was awake, "Gunnar, wake up. This is serious." I replied, "Jake, cut to the chase I am tired and I have to work again tonight." He stated with a trembling voice, "Tommy was shot and killed last night in Afghanistan."
I don't know that I have processed those words yet. I was at the funeral, I have visited his grave, yet it is hard to believe that this man who was so full of life is gone. I know he has no regrets and wouldn't change a thing. I am honored to have known and served by this man--a true hero.
Thanks for the memories Tommy. I am thankful for your sacrifice.