Many people forget there still are wars going on in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
I myself tend to forget that there are people overseas risking their lives just so I can go about doing whatever I want.
This war didn’t affect me emotionally until someone I knew was killed. One of my close friends died in Afghanistan just four weeks ago.
PFC. Eric W. Hario died August 29 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, after he was shot in combat the previous day. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia.
A 2008 Monroe High graduate, Hario was only 19 years old. He was so young, and I was so confident that I would see him when he got back.
One of my close friends was killed fighting for this free country that we live in. I was so overwhelmed with sorrow and sadness, thinking about him and his family. I knew people were risking their lives and getting killed overseas, but I never thought I would know one of them.
Following the funeral, as we made our way in the procession from the church to the cemetery, the community’s respect for the fallen soldier really surprised me.
I was overwhelmed as I watched every car on the street come to a halt and every driver get out in respect. People came out of their homes and businesses. Children stood alongside the road waving American flags in honor of my friend.
Women cried who didn’t even know him. Veterans stood by saluting him. Almost every person had their hand on their heart.
I’ve never seen the community come together as one and be so patriotic. It had me in tears seeing how much the public cared. It was something I will never forget.
Even though people don’t say it, or show it every day, it really is wonderful to be living in this country — all because of the brave men and women in the Armed Forces risking their lives overseas.
Every single one of them are heroes and forever will be.
It made me really appreciate the country I live in and the freedoms we have, which a lot of other people don’t have. I thank God for that. Let’s hope that all of our soldiers get home safe and soon.
As for my friend, Eric, he is one of the bravest guys I have ever known. You are truly a hero and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to know you. Thank you for risking your life, serving and dieing for what you believed in.
Memories that friends of Eric submitted:
“Eric Hario: a man, a braver man than I could ever hope to be, a true patriot. I can’t say enough about his service, commitment, and bravery. It was like yesterday in the weight room, on the field, or in the halls. A great team mate, friend, and an even better man. Thank you Eric Hario, the meaning of your service and sacrifice is beyond words or description. You will truly be missed. R.I.P my friend.” –Cj Zarecki
“My most cherished memory of Eric would have to be the last day of school, right before we all set up the slip and slide. Eric begged Carducci to let us throw water balloons and he just kept saying no. So we all got on him about it. Finally we came to an agreement. Eric no doubt was probably the first one to the balloons. Just when we thought it was all over. As Carducci is walking away he whips it across the lot, just getting Carducci’s feet wet. To this day I still wish he would’ve soaked him.” –Ashley Rivera
“I grew up with him all through school; I just can’t believe this happened to a friend of mine. You never think it will happen to someone you know. Eric you will be missed and God bless you for fighting for our freedom”. – Julia Niswender