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Written by: Fallen Patriot Scholar Ryan Wood, Harvard University

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My father died over thirteen years ago, when I was six years old, but I still remember him clearly. He was a very caring father, and loved to spend time with my brother and me. Some of my favorite memories with him were on weekends when my mother was working, and it was just my brother, my father and me. At these times, my father would to pay full attention to us, a couple hours at a time. We would play little kid games, make chocolate milk, and read coffee table books about space, dinosaurs, and airplanes.

Throughout my whole life, everything I have done has been in the memory of my father. Whether at a swim meet in high school, studying for a chemistry exam, or preparing for a piano competition, he has been there in my mind, inspiring me to give only my best. In times of difficulty, I remember the struggles and hardships my father endured, and some of my strength is regained. When I feel like my mental or physical fortitude has been drained, I think about his sacrifice, and convince myself that I can give a little more. In this way, my father, more than ten years later, is pushing me towards excellence in all parts of my life.

The hardest part about losing my father is the thought of how life would be different if he were still here. He was only around for less than a third of my life, and given how similar to him my mother says I am, I can only imagine how close we could have been as I grew up. For other students of fallen patriots, I suggest not looking back to the void left by a loved one. Instead, think about them as an inspiration. Try to honor their sacrifice in everything you do in life, whether it be by hard work, dedication to something, compassion, or anything else. My father was an electrical engineer by training, and I am majoring in electrical engineering. He is a major motivation for me in my classes, and because of his sacrifice, I feel more eager to study the subject which he did when he was a student.

I am currently a student of Electrical Engineering at Harvard University. In my future, I see myself working to build a high-tech company pushing the edge of innovation. I have big dreams, and I am willing to work hard for them. I am determined to make my father proud of what I can accomplish. He has had a great impact on my life to this point, and will continue to be a positive influence on me in the future. Receiving Fallen Patriots’ support means that I can concentrate more on my studies. It also reminds me of the sacrifices my father had made, and the generous people who make the scholarship possible. This all inspires me to work even harder to be worthy of their sacrifices and support.