Monday, May 17, 2010

A Generation to be Remembered

Every once and a while, incredible opportunities come your way, and you can't help but stop and smile, and in my case, cry. Last night I accompanied my Dad to a ceremony in Aitkin, MN, where he was being honored, along side two other men, for their service and sacrifice to their Country. Each of them had just returned home from a year long deployment to Iraq. The Aitkin support group put on the event. They have been sending care packages to troops overseas every month. They even sent packages to my Dad when he fought in Dessert Storm.

On our way to this event, we stopped by Camp Ripley to say Hi and give a salute to my Grandpa, who is buried there. As my dad and I were visiting his grave, my dad shared a thought with me as we looked over all the WWII Verterans who were laid to rest. "This whole generation is almost gone. All of their stories are being silenced." We started talking about their stories and how when they leave this earth, no one will be able to hear their stories and their heroic tales...their stories will be gone. My dad said they are the ones who have paved the way for his generation to take up the torch for the next generation to take it up and keep the freedoms and liberties that they fought and died for, safe. That's a pretty incredible thought.

When we actually got to the event, they had introduced my dad and two other men that were in his unit. And then they introduced Erv, a World War II Marine who had received 7 Purple Heart Metals! My eyes began to tear up as this 87-year old man walked to the front of the room, receiving a much deserved standing ovation. When they dismissed everyone to begin packing their care packages, my dad came up to me and said we were going to go meet him. I was so excited to get the honor of shaking his hand and thanking him for his service. As my dad began to introduce me to him, I started to cry. Yes, I am an emotional girl. Deal with it. I was completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of emotion and honor I felt, knowing this man is a hero, and I have the privilege of meeting him. A man of the last great generation.

Erv joined the Marine Corps in 1945 and was in the 4th Marine Division. He was the first wave into Iwo Jima, the first wave of Marines to enter Tarawa and the first wave into Okinawa. WOW! He said while he was up on the hill, all of his Officers were dead, leaving him, a PFC, the highest rank still alive. His Commanding Officer got on the radio with him and said, "Sergeant, get those men off that hill!" This is how he said he got promoted. Erv said, "I knew I wasn't going to be able to push the men off the hill, but I could lead them. I knew they would follow me." Erv was responsible for getting his men off that hill. He told me that 182 men went in with him and by the end of the fighting, there were only 22 of them left. I began to cry and he began to tear up, telling me that of the 18,000 men, over 17,000 (Erv knew the exact number, but I don't remember what is was) died in battle. I could see the hurt and emotion in his eyes as these stories brought him right back to that time. Erv told me that one of his best friends helped put up the flag on Iwo Jima.

Erv was in the Marine Corps for five years, receiving 7 Purple Hearts. The first time he was injured, he was shot right through the chest. He said two Navy Corpsmen, that were trained for only a year before being sent to battle, propped him up against a rock, ripped open his chest, and sewed him back together. Another time, he got his elbow blown off by a hand grenade. His 1st Lt had been his and his back was blown out by a grenage, who then fell of Erv, who fell on a hand grenade, nearly blowing off his arm. While in the hospital, the doctors told him they could either take off his arm, or give him a metal elbow replacement. "Well, put it on!" he said to them. Rev was the first ever recipient of a metal elbow. He called himself, "their guinea pig." Out of the five years Erv served during WWII, he only came back to the states once, only to heal after being wounded, and then he was shipped right back to war. He had never returned home until he left the Marine Corps.

As our conversation came to a close, Erv game me a hug and shook my hand again. I thanked him for taking the time to talk to me, and told him how honored I was too have met him. He said, If you ever see me, come kick me in the shins and let me know!" :-) I am completely honored and humbled at the opportunity to talk with the greatest Marine I've ever met. It will be a day I will honestly never forget. These are just a couple stories from a generation who gave their lvies to fight for the freedoms we have, making our Country great. It is our turn to take up the torch they once carried. If you have the change to talk to a Veteran, I encourage you to talk to them, ask them about their stories and experiences. Don't let their stories die without being told.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coming Home

As I stated in my first entry, my dad just got back from a year long deployment to Basra, Iraq. He went with 1,037 of the 34th Infantry Red Bull Division, a National Guard unit from Minnesota. They had a tough job, providing leadership, command, control and in-depth staff analysis for a 16,000-person multinational Task Force. The Red Bulls were also responsible for nine of Iraq's eighteen provinces and had a direct relationship with more than 40,000 Iraqi Security Forces, which included the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement. So they were extremely busy. Their Division operated out of Basra in the southern third of Iraq and was responsible for the provinces south of Baghdad.

There was a FOX News college challenge for students to make a 3 minute human interest story and send it in for a possible internship or entry level position interview. I would love to work at FOX so I wanted to jump all over that. I thought for four months on what kind of a story to do, and nothing came to me. My mom and I would try and think of some ideas that would be really interesting, and that would move people who watched, but I found nothing that I thought was worth doing a story on. One day mom my and I were workin on our fitness when she had a brilliant idea! "Dani, why don't you do a story on the Soldier's coming home?" My mom is so smart. No, seriously, she's on the Dean's list and made Alpha Chi. I had never even heard of such a thing, obviously showing how smart I am ;-) haha. Anyway, I decided to do a story that would show the emotion, excitement and pure joy of seeing husbands, wives and children watch as their loved ones walked through the door and into their arms after a year of being away. Wow, even now just writing that brings tears to my eyes. I have never been more moved as I was when I got to watch our men and woman in uniform getting to hold their families again.

I started off interviewing some of the wives of the Soldiers, asking them some of the challenges they faced while their husbands were away, how their communication was and if they had any worries while they were gone. Then I asked them if they had any big plans for their return. It was absolutely incredible to see the joy on their face, knowing in minutes they would be reunited with their men again. I was excited too, knowing that I was going to be able to see my dad again. I've always prided myself on being a pretty strong girl, able to hold my emotions inside. Well, I don't know what happened, but as I've gotten older, that's gone out the window. When I saw my dad I started balling, happy tears of course. I was 7 years old again, seeing my dad come home from his first tour to Iraq, holding my little American flag.

I was able to compose myself enough to be able to capture families moments, kissing, crying and embrassing their hereos. What beautiful moments. My dad had set up for me to interview 3 of his fellow Soldiers, who told me how great it was to be home and to see their beautiful wives again, and also what they are looking forward to the most. One wife said her husband loves Pepsi so much, "I stocked the entire fridge with Pepsi for him."

These are the moments I absolutely love being in TV Journalism. Being able to be a part of moments that are life changing, that move people, that move the human heart, and that bring smiles on everyone's faces. I attached my news package for this event, I hope you all enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I don't like math at all...and this made me pee my pants. :-))

First Entry

Well, I have never started a blog, but I thought, hmmm, well, I have thoughts and experiences...so I might as well share them. I am in my senior year at college, possibly the most difficult year. Just when you think you are on top of everything, you're not. But I am getting there, slowly but surely. It is nice to know that I have an end date, and it's near.

I suppose I should start by giving a little background as to who I am. I am a patriot. I love my country, and I support our men and woman in uniform who fight for our freedoms and sacrifice so that we may keep them. They are the true definition of what courage, honor and sacrifice is. I should like to see their pictures by those words in the dictionary. My dad is, and has been in the United States Army for many years. He recently just returned from a year long deployment in Iraq and I am so proud of him, and so very thankful that God kept him safe while he was away from us. Although...he did come back with an emense amount of gray hair. haha. Apparently it's stressful overseas.

While my dad was in Iraq, he ran a few marathon's for the Wounded Warrior Project. Many of the Soldier's ran these to support their fellow wounded and fallen Soldiers. Here is a picture of my dad running :-)

I love my family more than anything in this world. I have never seen the strength in anyone than that which my mom posses. She is the rock of our family. I have an incredible brother, to which is much smarter than I. And exceedingly more funny. :-)

In 2006 I was in a horrible motorcyle accident. My right arm was shattered and my left foot was hanging by my achillies tendon. The doctors said that I would never walk again, and if I did, I would without doubt have a limp. The main bone in my foot, the Talus bone, was severed completely in half, with the top half completely dead bone...meaning there was no blood flow in it. The doctors told my parents it would be wise to look at ankle replacements right away, so that I would have an opportunity to possibly walk with that. I told them no thank you, that I knew without a doubt that my God, my healer and savior would heal my foot. A year later I could start walking on it little by little, and they started noticing blood flow back in the top section of my talus bone. Two years later I could walk completely normal, no limp. I can play hockey again, go snowboarding, anything I want, except for running because it causes too much pressure to my bones. My foot is a miracle. I am a WALKING miracle :-) All I can say is God is faithful. This October will be 4 years since my accident...and everyday I am thankful.

Lets get back to the school aspect of my life. I am a TV Journalism major, so I report on events happening, get to meet absolutley incredible people sometimes, and get to be a part of things that I wouldn't necessarily be a part of if I wasn't in this field. So throughout this blog I will probably write about many of the stories I find or report on, which I think will be incredibly exciting.

Well, I am offically finished with my very first blog ever. I am extremely excited about it! I hope that you have gotten to know a little about me, and maybe even look forward to hearing more from me!
Until next time!
God bless you and keep you safe!