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Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Build Up to M-Day" A Tribute to a 21 Year-Old Veteran

submitted by Roger Metzger

During this Memorial Day weekend, I want to salute a young veteran who at age 21 exemplifies the tradition of military service and heroism.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he knew what he wanted to do as soon as he could. When he was old enough, he enlisted in the Army National Guard, spending the summer between his junior and senior years of high school in basic training and the summer after graduation in further training. Through his high school years he became skilled in the construction trades. That busy summer after graduating, he completed some technical training in the construction trades, tore down an old house and built a new one, getting it completely finished on the exterior. Despite that ambitious objective for a 19-year-old, he also volunteered for service with his Guard unit on a clean-up mission in the South after Hurricane Katrina.

That fall, he shipped out for Iraq and served in what then was the most dangerous area of the country. In addition to his military objectives, he had others: getting as many soccer balls as possible for the youngsters in Iraq; buying them ice cream whenever he could; and demonstrating to the locals that the American soldier would treat them with dignity and respect, so long as they merited it.

He passed up some early opportunities to come home on leave because he worried about leaving an empty spot in his unit at a time when they might need help. The strong Christian young man escaped some devastating attacks on his unit and returned home safely after his one-year tour of duty … returned to start his own construction business, to finish the interior of his new home … and to lead daily devotions with his siblings. All the while, he knows he’ll be heading to Afghanistan later this year for another round of service to his country and countrymen, confident he’s helping in the battle against global terrorism.

I salute that young man, because of what he represents … and because he’s my grandson.

More than that, he’s not unlike most of our brave young men and women fighting today for our freedoms. He’s not unlike our courageous young citizens who’ve put their lives on the line for us in every conflict.

Down through our history, they’ve understood what it means to be an American. They’ve understood freedom isn’t free. And they’ve known in their hearts and minds it’s worth it to risk everything for the values we’ve held dear as Americans.

Young men and women of America today get it … and they do the right thing. God help us all to be as courageous in the things we stand for, what we are willing to stand up for and what we’ll sacrifice to keep that flag flying proudly, under God, for generations to come!