Fallen Soldiers

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Gabrielson

Gabrielson

SFC Dan H. Gabrielson
U.S. Army Reserve
SFC Dan H. Gabrielson, 39, of Spooner, WI, died on July 9, 2003, in Ba Qubah, Iraq. Gabrielson was assigned to the 652nd Engineer Company, Ellsworth, WI. He was traveling in a convoy that came under attack. He was killed by hostile fire.


Speech to Northwestern Middle School - November 11, 2009

Thank you for the invitation to join you to celebrate Veteran’s Day.  As a Legislator and resident of this district I am especially proud to participate in the Middle School ceremony to show respect for the men and women who serve in our military forces.

Veterans Day was first called “Armistice Day” following the armistice agreement that was signed with Germany on November 11, 1918, effectively ending World War I.  In 1954, the national holiday was changed to “Veterans Day” and President Dwight Eisenhower called on all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifices of America's veterans.

Today is a national holiday to honor those from all branches of service: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.  However, it is much more. It is a day to celebrate who we are and what we want to be.

Veterans Day is personal. The men and women who proudly wear the uniform love America. As a Viet Nam veteran I am honored to have served. Despite the deep divisions and danger, I volunteered to go to Viet Nam because I felt an obligation to my fellow soldiers. So also did you your parents, grandparents, relatives and neighbors who proudly served or are serving this nation.

In World War I, America's veterans answered the call to fight the war to end all wars.

In World War II, America's veterans, many of whom were no more than 6 years older than you, proudly fought to protect our nation and brought peace and freedom back to the world.

Our soldiers fought on the hardened cold ground of Korea and in the hot jungles of Viet Nam. They answered the call to serve our nation and preserve our way of life. They donned the uniform as a matter of duty to their fellow citizens. They served in harsh conditions because they are proud Americans who felt a duty to serve their country.

It is personal. The freedoms we enjoy in America are the rewards from the dedicated service of brave men and women who proudly wear the military uniform.  The life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of all Americans are connected to the service and sacrifice of the millions of Americans who serve this nation both at home and across the globe.

It is personal. As a nation we are one family, and to those who give us their best, we owe our best efforts to repay the debt of gratitude for their service. Think about the mothers and fathers who have sent their sons and daughters off to protect America. We owe them our thanks. We owe them our commitment that we will serve our community in a way in which we honor their sacrifice.

It is personal. Today the nation grieves for those who were tragically killed at Fort Hood in Texas.  Names we didn’t know before are now faces burned into the nation’s soul. Two of your fellow Wisconsin citizens were killed in this terrible event. Sgt. Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wis. joined the Army after the 2001 terrorist attacks and had vowed to take on Osama bin Laden.  She had served one tour in Iraq and was about to be deployed to Afghanistan.

The other soldier was Milwaukee resident Russell Seager who joined the military at age 51 and had pushed officials to deploy him overseas to provide mental health services. At a late age he joined the military because he believed in service and felt an obligation to step forward and serve.

They were patriots, and as stunned as we are by the event, every American is stirred by and eternally grateful for their service.

Today in Afghanistan and Iraq, our brave soldiers endure 130 degree heat and sand storms as part of their duty in serving their country. These are brave men and women who endure harsh conditions, confront uncertainty and still perform heroic deeds each day to serve our country and defend freedom. 

It is personal. Some in this room know of friends or loved ones who have served or are serving America.

Let me introduce you to some neighbors whose names you may never have seen or faces you have never met:

Sergeant Dan H. Gabrielson from Spooner was 39 years of age and could have been the age of some of your parents or a teacher. He died on July 9, 2003 in Ba Qubah, Iraq.

SPC Paul J. Sturno from Rice Lake was only 21 when he died on September 22, 2003 in Quest, Iraq.

Lance Corporal J. Van Alstine from Superior was also only 21 when he died in February 25, 2006 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.

Corporal Kenneth Cross, also 21 and from Superior, died Aug. 27, 2006, in Baghdad, Iraq.

Lance Corporal Harry H. Timerberman from Minong was only 20 years old when he died in 2007 in Al Anbar province in Iraq.

Sergeant First Class Matthew Pionk from Superior was 30 when he died in January, 2008 in Sinsil, Iraq. Sergeant Pionk sacrificed his own life and credited for saving the lives of his fellow soldiers

Finally, Staff Sergeant Jeremy Vrooman whose parents live in Superior died July 15, 2008 when his brave actions saved the lives of 35 of his fellow soldiers.

These men and women are heroes. They were ordinary people who have paid the ultimate price in service to an eternally grateful nation. Their sacrifice along with the passionate devotion of all the men and women serving in our armed forces are an inspiration and you and I owe them our dedication.

Your grandparents and great grandparents are known as the greatest generation for their selfless dedication during World War II that helped save the world.  It is up to you to become the next greatest generation, to pay tribute to the men and women who have given Americans the great lives we enjoy today.

For love of country we must perform individual acts to improve the lives of others. For love of those who have given so very much so that we can enjoy life, we must reach deeper inside to discover the meaning of giving to others.

My generation was called to action by President Kennedy. In his inauguration address he said: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country. Ask not what America will do for you, but what we can together for the freedom of man.”

As my generation responded, your generation has an obligation to respond as well. We must all ask ourselves what we are doing for the betterment of our nation. We must ask ourselves what is the meaning of liberty. What are we willing to sacrifice to sustain our freedom and strengthen our community?  In what ways can we show respect and offer support to others? How can we honor veterans in more ways than giving speeches on Veterans Day? What can we do to offer our words of thanks to those who are serving us in dangerous places? What can we do to be better citizens in offering service to others?

 This room is filled with promise and each of you can answer these questions through your deeds. Today, thank a veteran, whether it is a stranger or a friend or family member. Let them know that you appreciate their sacrifice.

Take time to more deeply appreciate the greatness of America and learn about the contributions of those who have served. To honor veterans is to honor America. The freedoms you enjoy did not come for free. The opportunities that await you, the promise of a better life are all interconnected by those who serve.

To those whom the best is given, much is expected in return. Celebration of Veterans Day is personal. It is up to each and every one of you to honor the gifts you have been given and achieve the great promise that lies within you.

Thank you and thank a veteran.