Remembering Those Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice: Memorial Day

What it means to be the grandson of two American heroes

Today is a special day in the United States of America. It is a day where we all get to recognize the great men and women who are fighting so bravely for our wonderful country. It is also a day where we are remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We have the honor of paying our respects to the bravest men and women that our nation has.

Elmer A. Bonnell was a US Army veteran who served in the Persian Gulf. He was a beloved husband, an amazing dad, and also my grandfather. See, when I was a little boy, I would spend the summers with my grandpa and grandma in the small town of Warroad, Minnesota. I would be stuck to his side like glue. We would go and spend the days at the Canadian Customs, or we would go up to the hockey rink to watch the next olympic athletes.

As I grew older, distance separated us and our relationship. I went from being his “little buddy” to seeing him on rare occasions. He ended up moving from state to state, and there were times where we had no idea where he was living. It wasn’t until around 2007 where he finally found home in Loveland, Colorado. From 2007 to 2016, I think I saw my grandpa a total of five times. Far too less that I would liked to have.

On December 30th, 2016, the United States lost another amazing soul. My grandpa ended up passing away at his home in Loveland. My family went out to the funeral two weeks later and I thought I would go to be everyone’s moral support. Since I didn’t have the strongest relationship with my grandpa, I didn’t think that his passing would be so hard on me.

I held my emotions throughout the entire service, mainly just trying to comfort my dad and other family members. After the service, we went outside where his flag would be folded and handed to my grandma. I remember at this point that I started to get a little emotional and found it more difficult to control my emotions. Then came the gun shots of the 21 Gun Salute. I completely lost it.

Don’t get me wrong, the passing of my grandfather was not a highlight of my life. I loved him very much even though we didn’t have a close relationship. But for me, the hardest part was seeing his fellow brothers there paying their respects. Brothers that didn’t even know him were coming up to my family to pay their condolences. All I could do was to watch from the side and wipe away tears.

That was simultaneously one of the hardest and coolest things to see. Hard because my grandpa had just died and it killed me seeing my family hurt. Cool because my grandpa died a hero and was getting the respect he so rightfully deserved. I mean seriously, people who didn’t even know him were driving by on motorcycles with American flags on the back. There was the 21 Gun Salute, which was followed by “Taps.” All of this for a man from Rugby, North Dakota.

At that point, I realized how much of a hero both of my grandpas are. Both men put their life on the line and fought for our freedom. But it is also just bigger than my grandpas, it is all of the men and women that fight so bravely for this country. I also realized how blessed I am to be an American. I get to live in a country where men and women are honored for their service, where men and women have rights, and where we are free.

If there is one thing that I regret, it is not recognizing my grandpas for the true heros that they are until I had lost one of them. So on this Memorial Day, I want to change that and say THANK YOU! Thank you to all of the men and women that are fighting for our country. Thank you to all of the men and women who have lost their lives fighting for our country. And thank you to both of my grandpas. It truly is an honor being the grandson of two of America’s finest. I love you both thank you very much and cant express the gratitude that comes with being your grandson.

God Bless!

Michael Bonnell



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