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Remembering a Soldier

Updated on September 18, 2012
Sgt. Jan Argonish
Sgt. Jan Argonish | Source
"Fallen Soldier Battle Cross" (Boots, Rifle, Helmet) set up in memory of Sgt. Jan Argonish.
"Fallen Soldier Battle Cross" (Boots, Rifle, Helmet) set up in memory of Sgt. Jan Argonish.

I am writing this on September 11, 2012 and that is fitting. Because this is to honor a soldier who died fighting the war on terror.

In 2007, Army Sgt. Jan Argonish, a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, was killed during an ambush in Afghanistan. He was just twenty-six years old. He left behind a son and a fiance, family and friends.

For the past five years, Sgt. Jan's fiance has organized a motorcycle ride in his memory, with proceeds going to help veterans. This year my husband and I participated in the ride.

I did not know Jan, but he was from my area. To think about a soldier, any soldier, serving in war time evokes powerful feelings. To think of a soldier being wounded or killed is overwhelming indeed. The impact of it all was never so real to me, though, as it was this past Sunday when I participated in the Fifth Annual Sgt. Jan Argonish Ride.

The Sgt. Jan Argonish Ride

As my husband and I made our way to the start of the ride, along with a few friends and over five hundred other riders, I was overcome with emotion. I watched the Humvees move first. And then trucks draped with huge American flags. I heard the rumble of the bikes and took in the amazing scene. I then thought one thought: he is not here to see this. Sgt. Jan is not here to enjoy this beautiful day. He is not here with his fiance, or his son. Or his mom. Or his friends. He is not here to see all of these people, most of whom he never knew, gather together in his honor. He is not here, because he gave his life, fighting for all of us. Fighting for our freedom.

I fought back tears as we joined the line of bikes and from that moment on I appreciated every single second of that beautiful ride. I appreciated the winding, quiet back roads of Pennsylvania. The peaceful farm fields, and fresh bales of hay. The several "small-town" communities we passed through--each with local police and volunteer fire company support, blocking the intersections so that we may safely ride through. I appreciated the many community members who came out to support and wave and clap. Or give a "thumbs-up." The soldiers, one with a prosthetic leg, saluting. All the small children, standing, or in their parents' arms, waving little American flags. The young cheerleaders and the junior football team, cheering us on. The firetrucks with their ladders crossed over the road, American flags poised for us to pass beneath them. The mural all about Sgt. Jan.

It was overwhelming to think of why we were all gathered on that day, over a span of fifty miles and through many towns. We were there because Sgt. Jan wasn't. We were there to say that we honored his sacrifice and we will never forget. We were there to honor his fiance and his son and his family and his friends, too, because they must go on without him. We were there to remember this soldier, and all soldiers, who risk the ultimate sacrifice.

After the ride, we all gathered for food and entertainment, provided by the benefit. We were treated to delicious pizza, sausage, pulled pork, burgers, salads and beans. There were also many desserts, including, we heard, cookies made by Jan's mom. All day, there was great music from several local bands.

I was taken aback by the many volunteers and the level of donations; proceeds from the ride each year go to help local veterans and veterans' groups. Jan's fiance made an announcement that one local veteran would have his utilities paid. What amazing strength his fiance has, I thought, He would be so proud.

My husband and I saw some soldiers from Sgt. Jan's unit, and spoke with one, who announced she was being deployed, again, in four days. I thanked her for her service, and said I would pray for her. "I don't know how you do it," I said to her. "It's my job," she said back. Thank God there are people like her, and like Sgt. Jan, who are willing to serve this job.

During the entire experience --- the ride, the community support and the gathering afterward --- I kept thinking, "this is what America is all about." At once I felt so sorry that Sgt. Jan couldn't be there to share in it all, and so very grateful to him for his sacrifice so that I could be.

And just then, after some rain, an amazing double rainbow appeared. I took in the beauty and spoke silently to the sky:

Sgt. Jan Argonish, I did not know you. But I thank you. I honor you. And I will not forget your sacrifice.


Each flag represents a PA National Guard soldier who died whlle fighting the War on Terror.
Each flag represents a PA National Guard soldier who died whlle fighting the War on Terror.
Source

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    • profile image

      Talia 5 years ago

      I would love that!!

    • g-girl11 profile image
      Author

      g-girl11 5 years ago

      taliawalsh, THANK YOU so much for taking the time to respond to me. I am so grateful that you approved of what I wrote about the ride. I can't even tell you how much the whole experience moved me, how much I honor Jan and you. I am SO HAPPY that the piece made its way to you and that you shared it. I was thrilled with the response--it was my very small way of thanking Jan for his sacrifice. Thank you for leaving a comment-- I hope one day I can meet you in person!

    • g-girl11 profile image
      Author

      g-girl11 5 years ago

      Peter, I honor you for your service and like you, I hope all soldiers can come home soon. I pray for a world of peace! Thank you for reading my hub and for your comment.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Both the USA and the UK are losing too many good men and women fighting a war of dubious value. I was originally UK armed forces and know all about fighting for my Queen and Country but it seems the very people we are fighting to free have their own agenda and the time is long past to bring all troops home.

      Every soldier killed is a terrible loss to the family but that person is now held in the highest degree and is now free of pain and fear. They watch over their family and comrades with patience, love and compassion until the day we will all be reunited, their duty done and heads held high.

      With the greatest respect Peter

    • profile image

      taliawalsh 5 years ago

      G-girl11...I don't know you, but I just wanted to say Thank you for sharing your heart and experience at the 5th Annual SGT Jan Argonish Ride. You not only touched my heart, but many of Jan's friends and family, and even others who didn't know him. The words you described about the day as a whole...I couldn't have described it better myself other than that is exactly why we do what we do. The day warms my heart and makes me smile because I know Jan would be honored to be there and I know he was there with us. He used to tell me.."I'm going to make it big babe, and I'm going to make it my way." To see the lives he still continues to touch, even 5 years later, makes each day a little bit easier and I know "big" is a priceless word now. I hope you don't mind, but I've shared your Hub on our website, and our facebook page and it's been shared countless times over the past 12 hours. Jan would have been honored to meet you...Thank you!

    • profile image

      Talia 5 years ago

      G-girl11...I don't know you, but I just wanted to say Thank you for sharing your heart and experience at the 5th Annual SGT Jan Argonish Ride. You not only touched my heart, but many of Jan's friends and family, and even others who didn't know him. The words you described about the day as a whole...I couldn't have described it better myself other than that is exactly why we do what we do. The day warms my heart and makes me smile because I know Jan would be honored to be there and I know he was there with us. He used to tell me.."I'm going to make it big babe, and I'm going to make it my way." To see the lives he still continues to touch, even 5 years later, makes each day a little bit easier and I know "big" is a priceless word now. I hope you don't mind, but I've shared your Hub on our website, and our facebook page and it's been shared countless times over the past 12 hours. Jan would have been honored to meet you...Thank you!

    • g-girl11 profile image
      Author

      g-girl11 5 years ago

      Thanks Cyndi10. You said it beautifully. It was quite emotional to participate and to see communities come together to honor a young man who fought and died for our country.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      What a wonderful tribute to Sgt. Argonish. I'm sure he would have been honored and humbled had he known how many lives he touched without them knowing him or him knowing them. But they know his strength and his character because he gave everything to fight against terror. Thank you for sharing that with the rest of us.

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