Friday, October 07, 2005

Thank You, Sgt. Graham - Rest in Peace

A friend of my family lost his life while serving in Iraq. He was the first person that I've known to die during combat operations. Shawn Graham was a good friend of my older brother, and thus a friend of mine. We went to high school together and I graduated in the same class as his sister.

Shawn loved his country, as does his whole family. His father and brother also serve in the armed forces and have seen duty in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Shawn became a Marine because his dad's example. Shawn's brother became a Marine because of Shawn's example.

Shawn was a tough guy, but had a great sense of humor. He was easy to like because he had a good nature under that tough exterior.

I recall a story that my brother told me - one day while walking home from school, Shawn tripped on the uneven sidewalk. He sprung to his feet and the first thing he did was look to see who saw him. He had to be careful not to tarnish the tough-guy image. My brother and another friend had a good laugh at Shawn's expense. But Shawn laughed, too and took it in stride.

Here is his latest story from KDKA/AP:
A Grove City man, who served in Iraq, was laid to rest in his hometown, Wednesday.

Shawn A. Graham, 34, was killed in Baghdad last week when the vehicle he was riding in rolled over.

There was silence on S. Broad Street, as Graham’s family waited on one side of the church steps – the National Guard on the other – to see Graham on his final trip.

“We’re so proud of him, proud of the military. We support the military 100 percent,” said Kathleen Graham, the soldier’s mother.

Family and friends made their way out after the service, while grove city residents crept out of businesses and lined up the street, saluting and standing in quiet reverence, recognizing the contribution of Graham and every solider who has made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Everybody needs to be aware of the sacrifice that all these guys are giving for us,” said Brenda Nelson told KDKA’s Sonni Abatta.

“And it may not even be for us directly here, but because of what they’re doing, fighting for freedom, and that’s what we stand for.”

Shawn Graham was a sergeant in the Army National Guard's 124th Cavalry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, out of Fort Worth, Texas.

Semper Fi, Shawn. Thank you for keeping my country, my state, my town, and my family safe. My children never knew you, but they will know of you.

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