Memorial DayMemorial Day is a special moment of remembrance for many of us who have lost relatives, friends, or colleagues who fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for the precious gift of our freedom. This year, HRV employees want to honor family members who gave their lives for all of us while bravely serving their country, through remembrances and stories.  We also recognize some family members who lived through past conflicts because of the sacrifices of others.

“While I am blessed to still have my father who served as a Marine in Vietnam, many of his friends did not make it out of the Battle of Hue. I am grateful for their sacrifice and hope and pray that their families, and the families of all veterans, find peace.” – Carl Hunt

“I am very grateful for all of those who have made the greatest sacrifice our country’s freedom. If not for the brave soldiers, we could not live in peace and happiness. Thank you for your service.” – Samantha Heirendt

“As Memorial Day approaches, I will be thinking of all the solders that served and died for our country so that we have our freedom. I too have family and friends that have served in the military and some that are currently serving in the military. I am truly grateful for your courage, your strength, and your sacrifices for what you do for our country, and for me. I will always remember, honor, and respect our solders and I will always pray for you all. Thank you, thank you!” – Ingrid Theil

Chester Lentz and William Earp“Nearly every person that I know of my generation has family who either served or died in World War II, the Korean War, and/or the Vietnam War. My wife and I are most fortunate our family members who served in one of these conflicts made it back home alive and well afterwards. My maternal grandfather, Chester Lentz (US Marine Corps) and great uncle, William Earp (US Navy) George "Bob" Paxton(shown left) both served in WWII, and I know for a fact that both, although now passed, would serve all over again. During WWII, my wife’s father (George “Bob” Paxton) served in the US Merchant Marines (shown right), a long under-recognized branch of the US military, responsible for ensuring safe delivery of supplies to theaters of conflict, worldwide. The Germans torpedoed and sank the transport ship he served on in the North Atlantic; he was face down in a sea of oil when his Captain resuscitated and saved him. The lives our relatives led after the War represent the highest form of honor to the brave people with whom they served side-by-side; Memorial Day for us is a time to honor the many who gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedoms at home, and to be the shield of protection in the field of battle for our family members.” – Mark A. Miller

“I come from a military family and have been fortunate to not have lived through the ultimate sacrifice. I do know of people who served during WWII and live through the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and D-Day at Omaha Beach that lost friends and family during those days of battle. I have uncle who served during Vietnam and made it home, and was spit on by protesters who lost friends. They died here in the United States of America and gladly served and would have sacrificed their own lives to give us freedom and peace here in our lives. To me, that is Memorial Day; the fallen died for us to enjoy freedom, and ones that lived to tell the story of them that sacrificed for us. So remember that we live in the land of the free because of the brave.” – Kristopher Neddo

“On behalf of my family, we would like to thank those that are serving in the armed forces at this time. To those that have lost a family member we would not be the nation we are without the sacrifice of those brave men and women who believed so much in this great nation that they gave their lives. Words do not express the gratitude that we feel. God bless you and strengthen you always.” – Todd Taylor

My Nana’s younger brother, Burton (“Buddy”) Ward, died July 8, 1944 in Normandy, France. He was a Technician Fifth Grade, US Army, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division and is one of over 9,300+ soldiers buried in the Normandy American Cemetery. Ceremonial Parachute DropHere is a picture (left) of my Nana and Buddy before he left for the war. Fast forward to June of 2017 when my nephew Jared (pictured (right) at the Omaha Beach Liberation Monument) and his wife Katie, both in the US Army and stationed in Vicenza, Italy at the time, spent the week of D-Day in the town of Sainte Mere Egliese, France and even parachuted in as part of the ceremonies (pictured right). They were able to pay tribute and visit Buddy’s grave. I am sorry I never got to meet Buddy; I know my Nana was so, so proud of her only sibling, as I am also beyond proud of my nephew and his wife for their current service, as well as my Grampa, dad, and uncle who all proudly served in the US Navy. Buddy was awarded a purple heart posthumously for his service. – Betsy Wehner