The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Columns

April 3, 2008

Hero gave us his last full measure

Today I toast a man I now may only know through his legacy: Army Staff Sgt. Chris Hake, Enid’s son and a national hero.

Images of young Hake haunt me — my dreams and my days. He was a handsome, fit and obviously incredibly patriotic young man. Chris Hake embodies most of what is best in his generation and in all of us. In life, Hake was a walking embodiment of character, discipline, family values, patriotism, commitment and sacrifice. In death, Hake embodies all those virtues but on an elevated and intensified plane. Hake’s legacy now serves as a beacon call to all of us: Of what we may aspire to if we love the United States of America as much as we tell others, as much as we believe we do in our own hearts and minds.

The pictures recently circulated on the Internet and in the Enid News & Eagle of Chris Hake portray a man who loved his son, loved his wife, loved his parents and siblings and family, loved his friends and loved his nation so supremely he traded his young, promising life for the freedom of our nation and another nation 6,000 miles away — Iraq — the place where young Hake perished for freedom’s sake.

As most readers are well aware now, Hake and three Army comrades were killed March 23 in Baghdad when their military vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Hake, an infantryman and a squad leader with the 3rd Infantry Division, was in the midst of his second tour of combat duty in Iraq.

All the Chris Hake pictures trigger immense emotion within our hearts, minds and souls, but the images that move me the most personally are the pictures of Hake holding his son, Gage, and the one where baby Gage and his daddy are napping on their couch and the picture of Chris Hake at his seventh birthday party smiling widely while holding his birthday cake decorated on top with a panoply of Army soldiers and equipment. Like his own son, Chris Hake was a preciously adorable little boy.

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