Monday, August 16, 2004

SGT Galvan- Soldier/Hero 


We’ve all been asked to give of ourselves for this deployment fighting the War on Terror. To give a year apart from our families, to miss our kids’ birthdays, to mark the passing of our anniversaries alone, to imagine the commencements, soccer goals, first words, and so much more for the defense of our nation. We’ve all been asked, and we’ve all answered the call. Some have answered the call by giving more, by making the ultimate sacrifice. SGT Daniel Lee Galvan has given his all.

I attended a memorial service for SGT Galvan earlier today, held in the small base chapel built of plywood and faith. At the front, on the altar was placed a pair of combat boots with the business end of an M4 carbine, bayonet affixed, stuck between the boots and an aviator’s flight helmet perched on the weapon’s stock. Row’s of seats silently filled up with soldiers dressed in desert camouglage uniforms and flight suits while music played softly from the rear of the sparse room. Precisely at 1000z, the music stopped and a young soldier entered the room, stopping adjacent to the shrine of boots, rifle, and helmet and began playing a moving rendition of Amazing Grace on his bagpipes. The Chaplain then gave the invocation as we all rose to our feet and remained standing as two young female soldiers sang the most incredible version of the Star Spangled Banner, a cappella, all four stanzas. It was a beautiful duet and I thought quite appropriate.

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

This was followed by a handful of soldiers paying tribute to their fallen comrade by sharing their personal experiences with SGT Glavan and a fellow crewdog delivered the eulogy through teary eyes and a tight throat. Then, SGT Galvan’s first sergeant stood at the altar, rigid at the position of attention and began calling the roll. He barked a soldier’s name and received the response, “Here first sergeant!” And another, and another. Then he said in a loud, clear voice, “SGT Galvan.” The silence was crushing. “SGT Daniel Galvan.” I could hear my heart pounding. “SGT Daniel Lee Galvan.” The silence hung in the air until it was broken by the retort of an eighteen gun salute being fired outside the chapel. Following the third volley, a lone bugler went right into taps.

Afterwards my mind was full of thoughts. Thoughts about the soldier, the husband, and the father who had died so that people in Texas, New York, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, and elsewhere could enjoy the freedoms we’re so accustomed to. His children gave their dad so that the children of Afghanistan might have a future devoid of war and oppression. And then I thought of my soldiers and their families. Had I trained them hard enough? Am I keeping them focused? Do they have the equipment they need? Are their families cared for? Will the day come when I’ll have to stand up and call the roll? Rest in peace SGT Galvan, you are a true American hero, I’m proud of you.

Sgt Hook out.


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