One Young Man’s Sacrifice


by James Theres


Ryan Larson wasn’t a Veteran.  He never had the chance.  But he was one of us.   A little more than a year ago, the former high school wrestler and class President from Friendship, Wisconsin enlisted in the United States Army.  He completed basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia and arrived at Fort Wainwright, Alaska in October 2010.

Having been assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, he deployed to Afghanistan.  On June 15, 2011, he was killed in Kandahar Province.  Insurgents… Roadside bomb.

One can’t help but wonder the pain his mother is feeling now.  Or what she is thinking.  Hero.  Yes.  Grateful nation.  Sure.  But that’s just hyperbole.  The truth is…she is left with an unimaginable void.  Perhaps she is thinking now of a simple conversation she might have had with her son, her only child, many months before.  “Is this really what you want to do?”  Yes, because serving your country isn’t just for other people’s kids.

And so it is…his service is complete.  Ryan Larson, 19 years old, will be laid to rest on Saturday, June 25 in Friendship.  He was escorted home by the Juneau County Sheriff’s Department and the Juneau County Legion Riders.  His mother will be presented with a folded flag “on behalf of a grateful nation.”  He has left behind for us tomorrow, because tomorrow the sun will rise.  But before it does, ask yourself, what will you do with today?



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