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Spc. Daniel Lucas Elliott’s legacy remembered
by Carrie C. Causey
CARY — Every time soldiers come into the Spc. Daniel Lucas Elliott U.S. Army Reserve Center they will have a model and “an image of what it means to be committed to the Army, committed to the nation and what it truly means to be a soldier”.
Those were the words by 81st Regional Support Commander Major General Gill P. Beck Saturday during the memorialization ceremony of the facility to honor fallen hero Daniel Lucas Elliott of Youngsville.
“The building before today symbolized the Army Reserve. Now it symbolizes much more — the life of a young man who willingly sacrificed everything for something he believed in and something he loved,” Beck said.
Elliott was a combat military policeman for the 200th Military Police Command, and was inspired to join the military following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He enlisted in 2007 and in March 2011, volunteered for his second Iraqi tour, this time with the 805th Military Police Company for Operation New Dawn. Just days shy of his 22 birthday, Elliott was killed July 15, 2011 after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.
Among his awards and decorations are the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service medals (all posthumous). He is also remembered by all for his love of the great outdoors, hunting and fishing, and his willingness to always help others.
The process of dedicating a building usually takes several years, but was approved in a little over a year.
“We are proud,” said Elliott’s father Ed of Louisburg after the ceremony. “He is being recognized for something he loved to do. He served his country, but felt he was just doing his job. I’m sure he’s smiling down on us.”
Elliott’s brother, Brad, who spoke during the event, also expressed appreciation on behalf of his family.
“This is a great honor for my brother, my family and all his friends,” Brad said. “It’s an honor that leaves our souls well-fed and our hearts filled with plenty of pride.”
June 8 was declared Spc. Daniel Lucas Elliott day by Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Proclamations and words of gratitude and recognition were also provided by the offices of Renee Ellmers and Governor Pat McCrory.
Strength of a community
More than 100 people attended the ceremony, filling the seats and lining the walls at the Reserve Center.
In addition to recognizing Elliott and his life, the speakers gave thanks to his family, with emphasis on his mother Patti, who has continued her tireless efforts to support her son’s unit and the Army.
“Patti, thank you for all who have done,” said Beck. “You symbolize in so many ways what is great about America, what it is that is great about mothers, and what it is that is great about family.”
He later added appreciation for her willingness to take the circumstance beyond her control and step forward to tell the Army story and making her son’s life even more important.
“And Mr. Elliott, Ed, thank you. What a son, a fantastic young man. ... I know what it means to love a son. But I don’t know what it means to have lost a son,” Beck said.
Both Beck and 200th Military Police Commander Major General Sanford E. Holman shared how their is a chain of components needed for success.
“The strength of a nation is its army, the strength of an army is its soldiers, and the strength of a soldier is their family. But the strength of a family is from the strength of the community,” Homan said.
During Saturday’s ceremony, the chairs were filled and the walls were lined with families, friends and soldiers past and present. Among the attendees were the three other men in the vehicle the day of the bombing, including Richard Meyer of Wake Forest. Also in attendance were veterans and soldier support groups, including 15 members of Franklinton’s Rolling Thunder motor cycle club and Patriot Guard, plus several members of Blue Star Moms military support organization.
Blue Star Mom Denise Williams of Wake Forest said the ceremony was emotional because Patti is a good friend and because her own son is in the service. But she considers them all one family.
“Lucas is like mine,” she said after the ceremony. “He was all what they said and more. He was a great young man.”
Blue Star Mom Debbie Drew, also of Wake Forest, agreed the Army is a family.
“It’s an incredible honor and they would do this for us,” she said of attending. “Everyone here knew and loved him.”
In addition to remembering Elliott, speakers gave thanks to all armed forces and the sacrifices they make.
“Like many citizens in Cary, I didn’t serve in the armed forces, but not a day goes by that I don’t benefit from the sacrifices of the people in this room and the men and women all around the world who risk their lives every day so I can be free and so I can enjoy a great life,” said Weinbrecht.
“I didn’t know Spc. Elliott personally, but had the pleasure of hearing stories. I heard the stories, seen the fish and heard about his leadership on and off the battlefield. ... As mayor of this town, I am truly honored to have this facility named after someone who truly embodies what it means to serve and give their life for something so special so that we can all enjoy a better life.”