Brian: Mission Complete
On Monday, we will observe Memorial Day, a time set aside to honor men and women who have given their lives for our country. My friend Brian falls into that category. The following is a tribute I wrote in his honor.
My friend Brian died defending my freedom.
His 19-year-old remains, those that were found, were laid to rest in Mount Carmel, Illinois, on December 17, 2005. An American flag draped his casket, representing the country for which he fought and died.
I met Brian a few years ago on a mission trip to Tanzania, Africa. I was initially attracted to his bubbly personality and contagious laugh, but there was so much more to this young man.
He had a compassionate heart, a sweet spirit, and a deep love for God and country. It was this passion that drove him to enlist in the National Guard in 2003.
Because of his young age, his decision required the signatures of his parents, who warned that his decision could prove to be fatal. Brian’s response was simple, “I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to defend our freedom.”
That’s just what he did. He was driving a HMMWV in Ramadi, Iraq, when it struck a landmine during combat operations. Brian was killed instantly. His two passengers survived.
Brian died a soldier and a hero. He was and is an inspiration; he lived and died for a country he loved and a cause he believed in. He was pictured on the front page of his hometown newspaper, wearing his green uniform spackled with colorful medals. His handsome countenance looked fierce, brave, and proud.
Brian also had a fun-loving side that is portrayed in our favorite picture together in Africa. For one of our skits he wore a Roman soldier costume, complete with helmet, sword and sandals. The picture is a fitting representation of his great sense of humor, his heart for missions, and his endless patriotism. He bled red, white and blue, even in Roman attire while in another country.
Brian was a good student, a tri-athlete, and a strong leader with a passionate heart for Christ. His fellow soldiers affectionately called him “Preacher;” I was blessed to call him my friend.
He wanted to minister to others; he planned on attending seminary to become an army chaplain (and in doing so, following in his father’s footsteps). Though his dream will not become a reality, his life and death touched thousands, evidenced by the attendance and personal tributes at his funeral.
Specialist Brian Albert Wright, your mission is complete. I salute you.