Today my friend Glenda Hyde will be speaking to the class of 2019 at West Point. I took this from her blog: http://glendas.wordpress.com/ (well worth the time to take a look at her blog by the way). Before Daniel was killed in action I would maybe glance at the war casualties in the paper. However, since that day I will take the time to read the whole article and really think about it because I wholeheartedly agree with Glenda… “The war is far from over and the death toll just keeps going up. We owe these men and women the time to read about them, to hear their name and say their name… and to remember their name forevermore.”
If you have eight minutes, please take the time to read the speech Glenda will deliver at West Point today, sharing the story of her incredible son.
Next week my husband and I are headed to West Point to speak about our son, KIA 8 years ago. What an honor to be asked to do so. I hope I can bring the proper recognition to a guy who would never expect it, but who by all means, deserves it.
8 minutes of trying to describe what made Daniel special and what determined his LEGACY, required some thought and practice to get it exactly right. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to speak about Daniel, to anyone who wants to listen.
This is the speech I will present at West Point on Thursday the 4th, to the class of 2019 at the 12th Annual “Inspiration to Serve” Cemetery Tour.
Thanks for asking to read it Judy Holm.
I’ve told many people since Daniel’s death, it’s not how many years we get on earth, but what we do with those years that determines our legacy. Daniel Hyde got 24 years. At Daniel’s celebration of life service, his high school best friend said if he had to describe Daniel in one word, he would call him complete! But what made Daniel Hyde complete?
Well, he was literally standing in your shoes back in 2005. He quickly figured out what he had time for and the many, many things he did not. And that sleep was for the weak. After being awarded Best New Cadet in his first 3 weeks of BEAST, he had to do push-ups in his 2nd 3 weeks for a letter I addressed incorrectly, accidentally including his 1st name. But I discovered later through a journal entry that Daniel didn’t mind, “I would gladly do 1 million push-ups just to hear from my family, about my home.” When Daniel received his 1st ever B on a transcript we all realized that life at West Point was a whole different world.
Dan was good at boxing since he had achieved 2 levels of Black Belt and the boxing coach asked him to try out for the team. He fought for and won the spot but after much deliberation decided to decline since his grades were his priority. Daniel was selected for color staff in the spring of his Cow Year and then chosen to be the National Flag Bearer. While Daniel and I were talking on the phone one day I was telling him how I was becoming frustrated with the kids at the high school where I worked, lazy and slow to get out of their chair to salute the flag, I wanted to rant to the kids about how hard my son was working so that he could eventually protect and fight for the freedoms we all enjoy. Daniel said, “mom, leave the kids alone, that is exactly why I’m doing this, so they will always have the freedom to choose”.
Daniel was assigned as the BEAST II Regimental Commander and then served as Commander of the 4th Regiment his Firstie Year. These positions probably help you understand Daniel’s capabilities as he progressed through West Point, still managing to graduate 23rd in a class of over 900 with a Civil Engineering Degree. I’d like to share with you Daniel’s parting words to Company E4 on May 25th, 2007 via email, “In my humble opinion, I know this place throws a lot of tough stuff at you, but it is the people that you get to share this time with that will get you through it. That has been an absolute truth for me, so no matter what you do or where you go lean on the person to your left and right because we are a team and that is what good teams do!”
Alright, intelligent, a capable leader and a team player, but what made Daniel special? Well, if a picture is truly worth 1000 words then this picture should tell you an awful lot about Daniel Hyde.
Truly humble, quiet, he listened more than he spoke, he was always smiling, always positive, his character and integrity were the essence of his being and he realized every gift he had was from God, and that he had been truly blessed.
Dan recycled Ranger school twice, and I believe that was the most humbling experience he ever had. He was use to getting things right the first time so 2 recycles was tough. But I believe it made him an even better man; again exposing his human imperfection, but not breaking or disrupting his spirit and drive to do better and to be better. Dan got to Hawaii, his first post in July of 2008, 3 months before he deployed to Samarra, Iraq. With no spots open for a platoon leader Daniel’s Lt Col approached him about taking an XO position that would be extremely challenging and Daniel responded, “Sir, I’m ready to serve in whatever capacity I could be useful.” He served as B Co. XO for 3 months and in January (his birth month) was promoted to 1LT and got his own platoon. 2 months later on a Saturday in March while out on a routine mission there was an attack and Daniel was the only casualty that day.
Daniel’s dad and I were most proud to hear that Daniel treated everyone from private to General with the same level of respect and that he wasn’t too arrogant to ask for advise and hear input from those who had served in the Army longer and were more experienced. Dan’s Specialist Forward Observer told us he was “shocked” when Daniel asked for his advise regarding the attacks they were experiencing. Another, told us Daniel sat down with each of them and picked their brains and then implemented their ideas into the daily plans. He wanted everyone in the platoon who had knowledge that could be useful, to share it. He didn’t pretend to know everything. Let me repeat that. He didn’t pretend to know everything and his soldiers and NCO’s noticed this and were impressed by it.
I’d like to share with you comments from Daniel’s high school peers, his high school basketball coach, West Point classmates, Ranger brothers and his soldiers because it’s the best way I can express who Daniel was to others- which is what determined his Legacy.
Daniel was a shooting star; An angel now watching over us; The White Knight with the golden heart; An incredible athlete; He left a lasting impression, he touched us all; Dan made everything he touched better than he found it; The best person I’ve ever known in my entire life; Dan was never doing wrong – walking through the woods for days – never cutting corners; An integral piece of the moral fabric of humanity; He lead by example; He honestly cared; I would stare in awe of his grace, intelligence, poise, kindness, dedication and mental toughness; The most sincere and selfless friend I’ve ever had; Always the guy we could call at 3AM because he would sit on the phone and walk us through a problem set that only he could figure out; Good at everything, hateful to none, the closest a person could come to perfection on this earth; Daniel was a man with many sides, motivated but relaxed, driven but never aggressive, competitive but always a sportsman, always busy but never complaining, a gentle soul but a passionate soldier; Each and every day Dan motivated me and even in his darkest moments he was always willing to help someone else and encourage them; Dan in his own quiet way had an infectious personality the impact of which even he did not fully understand, no matter what the situation Dan was always doing the right thing with a smile! I’m incredibly grateful for the time he had in life and the impact he had on those around him; ONE OF A KIND.
and that…is the legacy of Daniel Hyde, who I’m proud to say, currently has 6 children named after him. I’ll close with Daniel’s advise for all of us, “Do not accept mediocrity in any aspect of your life.”
Thank you for paying respect to Daniel today and thank you for your future service to our Country.