June 16, 2014 at 10:06 a.m.

A rich family history in the military

By By Erik Sistad-

It would be a great honor to be able to lay a wreath down at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I first visited Arlington Cemetery about three years ago with my family. The phrase, "Some gave all...All gave some," really hits home to me. My family has a rich history of serving in the military. From my Great Uncle Hans to my brothers currently serving, I am very familiar with warriors of all kinds.
My Great Uncle Hans would fall under the part "Some gave all," because he died in the final months of World War I in France. When I first visited his grave at Arlington, I was shocked at how many graves there were. My family was one of the first descendants of Hans to ever see his grave and I felt deeply honored.
I have had a lot of close family serve in the past 10 years, including my brothers, Joe and Justin. They would fall into that "All gave some" category. Joe first served in the Minnesota National Guard as part of the "Red Bulls" and got stationed in Bosnia in 2003. However, he spent most of his time in Fallujah, Iraq from 2006 to 2007. His platoon suffered three casualties, and one lost his legs. Although my brother only gave some, he came close many times to losing everything. They were all volunteer and they put their lives on the line for nothing in return.
My older brother Justin is currently stationed in Des Moines, Iowa, as a Navy recruiter. He enlisted in 2005 as a sailor, but didn't deploy until 2006. As he went up the ranks, he got more into special warfare working closely with the Seals. His last of seven deployments was to Central America a year ago. Though we personally weren't deployed, we lived the deployment together as a family. Most people don't understand what it is like until they live it.
My family has endured a lot and displayed bravery and courage for this country. I will always be thankful for what they did, and I hope I can carry on the "family tradition" by serving my country in the future.
It would be my way to pay my dues to honor those who gave all, and the ones who gave some. My family went through a lot through the years, but appreciation and respect for what they are willing to give, for people they have never met, is the biggest thing that we learned.
-- Erik Sistad, an eighth grader at Stewartville Middle School, read this essay to the audience at Woodlawn Cemetery during Stewartville's Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 26.

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