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What started out as a class writing assignment turned into a tender moment when Trystan Bever-Johnson read an essay during the Veterans Day assembly at Richmond Middle School, on Monday.
The theme for the essays was “Why American Veterans Should Be Honored.” Trystan’s essay was chosen from the class to represent RMS in the annual VFW’s Patriot’s Pen Contest.
It is said, “Timing is everything.” The deadline to enter the essay competition was Nov. 1 and it was appropriate that the essay was to be read during the assembly recognizing this nation’s veterans. What wasn’t so expected, however, was that Trystan’s father, Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Bever, would return from Kosovo two days prior to the assembly and was present when Trystan read her essay.
As the veterans were introduced at the beginning of the assembly, extra cheers were heard when Staff Sgt. Bever stood and waved. Apparently, most of the student body knew that he was Trystan’s father and were also aware that he had just recently returned from Kosovo.
As Trystan read her essay, her father standing next to her, they seemed to alternate which portions of the essay brought tears to their eyes. Trystan’s love and pride in her father, what he stands for and the great service he renders for this country was quite evident. Just as obvious was her father’s love and admiration for his daughter.
After the assembly, the two spoke with The Daily News about the experience. Trystan said her father has served in the military for 20 years and has been deployed many times.
“The last time he was deployed, he went to Germany. It wasn’t as bad as this time,” said Trystan. “This time is different. This time is much harder on me.”
Staff Sgt. Bever said, “She’s very bright, and very intellectual. She’s one of my kids that’s always in contact with me. There’s always an email in my inbox when I get back from a mission. I’ve come to rely on those.”
Trained in infantry tactics, Staff Sgt. Bever, Alpha 1st 129th Field Artillery, Task Force Thunder, Kosovo, is assigned to the 13 Bravo Field Artillery and 31 Bravo Military Police. Their duty is “to maintain a safe and secure environment, and freedom of movement,” said Staff Sgt. Bever. In order to do this, his company goes from house to house in various neighborhoods. Training and reliance upon fellow soldiers is crucial to a safe mission.
“We also do patrols on the ABL (Administrative Boundary Line), mostly as a presence patrol,” said Staff Sgt. Bever. “We’re spreading the American influence in an impoverished nation, and are making a difference as a UN-led force. People feel the U.S. presence there and it gives them a feeling of being safe.” He has worked with the Kosovo police too. “They’re getting there. We’re trying to let off some and are letting them do their job.”
As her father spoke, Trystan seldom looked away. She was truly focused on the few moments she has had with him. He will return to Kosovo on the Nov. 19, so every moment is cherished. Staff Sgt. Bever is aware of his family’s concerns for his safety.
“They are constantly in every decision I make. They’re my driving force to get home and stay safe!” he said.
It is said that we are all important, but not for the reasons we think. It isn’t for our job, or our awards, recognitions, degrees or talents. Those are all ways we give of our time and efforts.
For young Trystan, the thoughts are much simpler, but very powerful. ‘He’s everything to me.”
Photo: Staff Sgt. Bever watches his daughter, Tristan, read her essay. (Photo by Brenda Jensen)