Personal qualities, not actions, make a hero
By Julia Wolf
What makes someone a hero? Guest speaker Staff Sgt. Dan Yeager talked about his definition of the word, during a Veterans Day service held at the Cadott High School, Nov. 11.
Yeager began by asking those attending to keep the importance of military families in mind, as he told the story of his time in the armed forces.
“I was blessed to have family and friends provide me motivation and support throughout my time in service,” said Yeager. “Our families sacrifice so much, so that we can defend our country.”
Yeager grew up in a family that values military duty, with his father, grandfather and other relatives serving. Military service was in the back of his mind.
“I vividly remember 9/11 and all of the emotion that stirred in me,” said Yeager. “I sat in this very building, right upstairs in the library and watched the attacks on TV.”
After witnessing 9/11, Yeager says he felt a stronger pull to join the military. Yeager enlisted in 2003, and went to Fort Benning, Georgia, to learn what it means to be an infantryman. He was deployed to Iraq in 2004.
“War is dynamic and you have to be willing to conduct whatever command tells you to do, no matter how important or trivial you may think it is,” said Yeager.
During the tour, Yeager performed a variety of missions, including meet and greets, presence patrols and raids. After a year abroad, it was time for Yeager to transition to life back in the United States.
“It sounds like it would be pretty easy, trading uncertain for American luxuries, but that’s not always the case,” said Yeager, adding it can be a lifelong process for some people.
Yeager says people referred to him as a hero, which he felt undeserving of and noted many other veterans feel they haven’t done, and could never do, enough to be called a hero.
Over time, Yeager said he came to realize that no specific action makes a person a hero, rather every hero possesses LDRSHIP. The Army acronym stands for loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
“Veterans have this instilled on them and can positively impact those around them,” said Yeager, adding the lessons he learned in the military made him better at other aspects of his life, including fatherhood and teaching.
Yeager says there are hundreds of different jobs in the military, and all of them work together to defend the country and the nation’s allies, on land, in the air and at sea.
In 2009, Yeager returned to Iraq, where he worked gathering human intelligence. He said, despite the different walks of life service members come from, they all felt called to be part of something bigger than themselves and protect the nation.
“There is no doubt that our veterans have paved the way for our military’s reputation as the finest fighting force in the world, both in strength and in character,” said Yeager.
The Reason We’re Free, while holding photos or names of loved ones who served in the armed forces. The ceremony closed with a moment of silence, the 21-gun salute and the playing of TAPS.
A Tribute to the Armed Forces. Veterans were asked to stand when their branch was recognized in the song.