Today, Michelle and I rode our motorcycles down to pay our respects to one such soldier who gave it all on the field of battle. Danny Dietz. Petty Officer 2nd Class Dietz was a 25 year old Navy Seal who epitomized honor, duty, and valor on the battlefield. Wounded seriously 5 times, Danny fought hard to protect the lives of his three teammates during an intense gunfight in Afghanistan in June of 2005. His injuries were so severe that no one would have blamed him for not continuing to pour out precision fire into the enemy’s ranks. But he did. He kept fighting with the complete and total selflessness of someone who cares deeply about his teammates above himself. His story is documented in Marcus Luttrell’s book Lone Survivor. Danny and the rest of his SEAL team’s story is shocking and amazing and should be required reading of every American. It shows the level of sacrifice our warriors put out every day.
Danny is from Littleton, Colorado and a local artist was so moved by his story he created a bronze sculpture to honor his sacrifice. The monument is moving and emotional to stand next to. Today, Michelle and I were the only ones there to view his memorial. But we weren’t the first. Many had come by and placed something on the monument in thanks. The cool breeze was blowing dried up leaves across the grass. Cars would cruise by with the drivers oblivious to the soldier whose gaze will stare forward into eternity, on guard, preventing them from harm. His posture in the statue is strong, head up, eyes forward as if scanning for threats. His jaw is set with fierce determination. His hands cradle his weapon like a craftsman’s tool. It is an amazing work of art.
But it is more than a statue honoring one soldier. It stands for the thousands of men and women who have stepped willingly into harms way and been wounded or killed to protect our freedoms and America’s interests. Every city in our great country should have one of these statues of a local hero who gave it all. But they don’t. This one almost didn’t get built because the local parents and neighbors thought it was bad form to place a statue of a soldier holding his weapon so near a school. Their ignorance and focus was on the gun, not the story of heroism. But justice and honor prevailed and this monument to courage was permanently fixed in place.
This year, take a minute and support someone who fought for you by making a donation to any fine soldier supporting agency such as Wounded Warrior Project (http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/) or the USO (https://www.uso.org/) . You can even reach out and organize a package delivery to any soldier in any theater of battle (http://adoptaplatoon.org/site/). But most of all, simply don’t forget them this veteran’s day.
Tim “Top Fueler” Buhler