Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving in the United States Armed Forces. The day will more than likely feature parades, barbecues and more. But let's not forget the soldiers who have fought in the past and are currently fighting to give Americans the freedom they have.
Smyrna High School graduate Chris Hammond, 27, joined the Army in 2002 when he was 17 years old because it was something he always wanted to do.
"Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be in the military," Hammond said.
Lucky enough to know what his future entailed, Hammond joined the ROTC in high school and joined the Delaware Army National Guard the first chance he got.
A decade later, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chris Hammond is a Blackhawk pilot with the 238th Aviation Regiment. In that time, Hammond said he's been deployed twice for a total of two years – the first time to Eastern Afghanistan and the second time to Western Afghanistan. When he's home Hammond works in Delaware, but travels for different courses.
Hammond said he chose the Army over other branches of the military because he wanted to fly helicopters.
"I like the structure [of the Army] and the strength of purpose when doing my job," Hammond said. "I feel like I'm making a difference."
Hammond will deploy again at the end of the year, this time to the Middle East.
For him, Memorial Day is a reminder that freedom isn't free.
"To me it's a day to remember people who gave their lives then so we can now defend the freedom the United States fought for," Hammond said.
Hammond also pointed out that while Memorial Day is a day to remember fallen soldiers, Veteran's Day on Nov. 11 is a day to give thanks to all soldiers for their service. Sometimes it seems like people forget why Americans are free to live their lives, Hammond said, and these holidays are a chance for citizens to give thanks.
"They're about the people who gave their lives to give us our freedom," Hammond said.
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.