‘These Are Our Heroes, and Today We Honor Them’

For many people, Memorial Day is simply a holiday from work and school, as well as the unofficial start of summer, complete with barbecues and pool parties. But the opportunity to enjoy such happy times was made possible by all those in the American military who died to protect their country’s freedom.

It’s something Fairfax City Councilman Sang Yi never forgets because, for him, Memorial Day is intensely personal. A friend with whom he attended the Merchant Marine Academy died in Iraq at age 24. He was Army 1st Lt. Aaron N. Seesan, and Yi wears a silver bracelet engraved with his name in remembrance.

“He died on May 22, 2005, with burns over 80 percent of his body from an IED,”
said Yi. “I think about him all the time. I wore his bracelet when I got married; and
when I was elected to City Council, I thought, ‘Aaron, you’re here with me.’”

“It’s signing their name on a blank check to 330 million Americans, most of whom they’ve never met,” he said. “And on Memorial Day, we ask why they died – why do people show up to the military and say, ‘I’ll go where I need to go and do what I need to do’? “It’s because they love their fellow man and their country,” continued Yi. “It’s a pledge to serve the people next to them – their fellow soldiers and shipmates. It’s also for an ideal of freedom and to preserve the principles of this country. So we honor them for the bravery in their hearts, their patriotism and their love of country.”

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Sang Yi is a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense.