CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — For the past 100 years, America has honored those who paid the ultimate sacrifice but whose names have been lost on the battlefields they served on.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington’s National Cemetery is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and the honor of serving in that role is one of the rarest in the military, reserved for only those who can meet the highest of standards. Charlotte native and Retired SGM Adrian Hamrick is one of the few to do it.
“It was the most honorable thing I could do for my country and for my fellow citizen was to stand guard over the unknown soldiers,” said Hamrick. “How we take care and how we protect and how we remember and how we cherish the unknowns gives comfort to those that may serve in the future that we won’t forget your service.”
Hamrick has served as an army ranger, a drill instructor, and more. In battle, he’s fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and taken part in several military operations that he will never speak of. But it was an interaction that happened at the tomb that played a huge role in shaping his view of the world.
”When I turned the corner to go change the guard, I heard the little African-American boy say, ‘he’s black!’ and started crying and the family moved towards the chain,” Hamrick said,
As the 57-year-old tells it, it was then he began to realize how he could help shape the dreams of others.
“So as a tomb guard I see it, but there’s no emotion attached to it, but there’s a certain level of responsibility to make this the best guard change I’ve ever done,” Hamrick said.
That memory changed something in Hamrick, so when it came time to leave the military almost a decade ago, he already knew his next role was helping to mold the world’s future leaders.
“So, my personal role that I took on was to try to wake up the greatness that already exists in people by providing purpose, why you want to do something. Direction, how if you need instruction and how, if you need motivation, why you want to do that,” Hamrick said.
The man who once donned a rifle and a parachute as a member of the renowned 82nd airborne now was trading that in for a hat and whistle. Hamrick would start his non-profit called SEAL prep. Which stands for student, explorer, athlete, and leader, all things Hamrick preps these young men and women to be.
And he’s finding the same fulfillment doing this in his new chapter by taking the same approach he did in his last.
”You have that, what we call, intestinal fortitude, that you want to meet the most capable enemy on the field of battle and defeat them because you are better trained and surrender is not a ranger word,” Hamrick said.
The only difference is now it’s a different battlefield, a different enemy, a different honor.
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