It's been 3 years since this world lost a truly kind hearted soul. On July 24, 2006, SPC Dennis K. Samson Jr. was killed in action in Iraq. Today, I honor him and continue to keep my promise that he will never be forgotten.
I remember hearing the devastating news and being so completely heartbroken. The compassion I felt for his family cannot be explained with words. While experiencing such immense sadness, I also felt extremely grateful. Not one person who knew Dennis could tell you anything different. Many tears were shed over such a great loss in our community. We were all honored to have known him at some point in time in our lives. If you asked any one person what they remember about Dennis, most would answer the exact same thing. He had a smile that could light up the room! I can still picture that smile today.
Dennis came into my life when we were just kids. He was one of my sister's first real boyfriends and spent plenty of time with our family. The adoration for my sister, that I saw at times in his eyes, was so sweet and enduring. One of the best memories I have of him always makes me smile from ear to ear. My sister was going to perform an old song called "Stupid Cupid" for a school event. Dennis wanted to help her out and we decided to add him to the performance... as cupid! Without hesitation, or at least none that he showed, Dennis donned an outfit that most guys would have run away screaming from. Let's see... heart adorned boxer shorts (with something underneath of course), a plain shirt, homemade faux wings, and a toy bow & suction cup arrow set. With Dennis's deep tan skin, sparkling brown eyes, dark black hair, and gorgeous bright smile, he was the best looking teen cupid the world has ever seen. Mostly adorable, because he did it all for my little sister.
After I moved to Maine in 1998, I didn't have the opportunity to see or talk to Dennis often. In fact, many many years had gone by before I spoke to or saw him again. One day however, in April 2006 I believe, I was on Myspace and happened upon his profile. I sent him a friend request and shortly afterwards we were talking. We caught up a bit and it was so great to see how much he had grown up, and what a handsome man he'd become as well. He told me that he loved the family Star Wars pictures I had posted from Halloween and was amazed that I had made portions of the costumes. I remember feeling glad that he'd noticed those things, because I had worked so hard on them, and every time I look at those pictures now, I remember him and his comments. We talked about where he'd worked at one time and a number of other normal "catching up" topics. Dennis also spoke to me a little about his time in Iraq so far and about some of the reactions, comments, and questions he'd received since returning for a visit home. I won't divulge most of the conversation simply because this was something I promised him that he could speak freely and honestly to me about without questioning if it would be repeated. I will let you know that he didn't go into many details about life there, but in what he did say to me, I saw the kind heart that I'd seen when we were just kids. He had changed in many ways, but I was happy to see this part of him remain the same. What he did talk to me about, stuck with me. I think it always will.
I didn't know him as well as many others. His family and many other close friends were more connected to Dennis than I was. I knew him mostly as a boy and for a brief time as a grown man. Regardless of how much or little time spent with him, he affected many lives. Even many of those who have never met SPC Dennis K. Samson Jr., and sadly never will. Due to his sacrifice, and the sacrifices of so many others, we are able to do a great many things in this country. It is with great respect that I say... Thank you to Dennis and the many men & women of this country, along with their families, for the many sacrifices you have all made.
Dennis Samson touched my life and I hope that reading a little about him will touch yours.
We miss you Dennis! You are never forgotten, but we know that you are bringing even more light to the streets of Heaven with your radiant smile and kind heart.