On Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day, which is celebrated on the third Saturday in May. According to a New York Times article published on May 17, 1952: "This is a day on which we have the welcome opportunity to pay special tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces...to all the individuals who are in the service of their country all over the world."
Editor's Note: The following essay, written by Conlee Luke, a senior at Emery High School, was recently published in a national magazine. Although he wrote the essay about his uncle, Sgt. Bradley John Hansen, 116th Engineer Company (CSE), it is a tribute to all men and women of the Armed Forces.
At some point in life, almost everyone has a hero. Heroes can range from cartoon or comic book characters to real people. As a child, your hero might be the toughest, roughest crime fighter like Spiderman, Superman, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Later, your hero might be a professional sports star or a seemingly indestructible motion picture character.
Away from the spotlight of the big screen and away from the multi-million dollar contract and stadium of cheering fans there is another hero. This hero quietly pledges his life to serve his fellow men and country. He leaves all that he has - his family, his home, his career - to fulfill his duty. He doesn't protest or complain or try to pass this responsibility to someone else. He has a conviction to what needs to be done to preserve our nation and our freedoms. His friends trust him with their lives because he is loyal and brave. He doesn't back down when the going gets tough. He performs his duties with exactness and honor. He is trained to fight, but he doesn't go around looking for one. He loves his family, his friends, and his country, and he is willing to fight and put his life on the line for the things that he loves. He doesn't ask for recognition and applause, but he deserves it. He is an American soldier.
|Sgt. Bradley John Hansen is an American hero. Photo taken in Northern Iraq.|
My uncle is one of these soldiers. As I was growing up, I always wanted to do whatever my uncle was doing. Even though I was just a little kid and he was a cool high school boy, he went out of his way to involve me in what he did. He took me dragging Main Street in his big red truck with the windows down and Alabama music up loud. He took me for rides on his motorcycle and in his dune buggy. As I got older, he took me hunting. I thought he was my hero because he was so cool and we had fun together. Then one day he got a phone call, and within the month he was gone off to war. That is when I knew he was my hero.
I saw him quietly box up his belongings, make arrangements for his business to be taken care of, pack his bags and report for duty. He left the peace and beauty of his home state and went to a foreign land of heat, sand and wind. He went to help free people from oppression and to keep terrorism away from American soil. He went to give people hope.
You haven't seen him on television or in the theater. His name is not in big letters on the back of his jersey, but in small letters over his heart. The screams he hears do not come from cheering fans. He is not Superman, yet he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is my hero.