North Dakota National Guard Honors Fallen Heroes
For veterans across the country like Major Strebe, Memorial Day is a reminder that the cost of freedom is never free.
MANDAN, N.D. — “We are deeply and eternally grateful to the brave men and women who stood in harms way to protect our nation and defend the values we hold dear,” said Governor Doug Burgum, “Now more then ever, we must never forget that freedom isn’t free.”
Retired Major Arnie Strebe never forgets the price of freedom.
“For those who have been impacted by a loved one killed in action, this day is not about car sales, good deals, or running off to the lake,” said Major Strebe.
For him, there are reminders in his daily life of the true cost that our nation pays.
He and his wife are close friends with Trevor Hendrickson.
“I knew Trevor’s father, we weren’t best buddies, but he was a brother, a brother in arms,” said Strebe.
Trevor’s father was Staff Sergeant Kenneth W. Hendrickson.
Strebe and Hendrickson met on multiple occasions while they were part of the 164th Engineer Battalion.
Staff Sgt. Hendrickson was killed when his convoy struck an IED just north of Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.
“His sacrifice is exactly why we celebrate Memorial Day,” said Strebe.
Strebe likes to check up on the officers he helped train over his 17 years of service with the Army and the North Dakota National Guard.
Those checks reveal just why Memorial Day is so important.
One of the officers he helped train, Major Alan Johnson was killed in action in 2007 when his Humvee struck an IED in Iraq.
“The bittersweet part of Memorial Day is that when you remember someone, you remember them as they were,” said Major Strebe, “I have clear memories of him that I’ve retained throughout the years. They are as vivid to me as if they happened yesterday.”
For many of us, Memorial Day is a time for reflection with family, a time to be thankful for the sacrifices of our nation’s bravest heroes.
But for veterans across the country like Major Strebe, it’s a reminder that the cost of freedom is never free.