Prepared Remarks of Shelby Summers
Daughter of SFC Severin Summers, KIA August 2, 2009 &
Freedom Alliance Scholarship Recipient
In Acceptance of the Richie Sheirer Award
New York, New York
September 24, 2016
Hello everyone, my name is Shelby Summers. My father was killed in Afghanistan when I was 13 years old from an improvised explosive device that hit his Humvee along with two other men – all very good men. I guess you could say that is how I made it to this podium today, speaking to you, because of the sacrifice of my loved one. I am also here because of another man that gave his life for this country – so selflessly – firefighter Stephen Siller. But it is Freedom Alliance who made it possible for me to have the honor of speaking at this event tonight, in the greatest city there is.
Well, a little bit about my father. His name was Severin West Summers III, he was a crazy person, a very silly person, a true outside the lines kind of guy. But boy was he a tenacious person, a determined person, a loving person, and a warrior if I’ve ever seen one
He was born in the middle of a hurricane and I think that depicted the rest of his life! I remember how I would go hunting with him. Hunting was his absolute favorite activity.One minute he’d be the most Regal Queen Elizabeth and the next minute he’d be STEVE ERWIN THE CROCODILE HUNTAH!
But even with his loud mouth – always trying to make me laugh – he’d somehow manage to go stealth mode at the last minute and get a deer. I would always wind up on the floor laughing, he never ceased to entertain me. He was really something, and I wish all of you had the pleasure of knowing him. I wish every single day that he was still here and that he could still entertain me with his Crocodile Dundee impressions.
But sometimes there is a bigger picture, and things do not happen how you’d like them to. I find peace knowing that his memory will live on for many years to come, not only in my mind but in the minds of hundreds of others – people that didn’t even know him personally – they still know who Sev Summers is, that’s just who he was, a very memorable hurricane – a natural warrior.
And however bittersweet it may be, I’m sure that Stephen Siller’s family knows what I am talking about, and maybe some of you. But we find ways to cope with this – I mean look at all of this – this whole entire event and the race and everything is so amazing. It really is incredible what these people have done in honor of their brother and how many others this will help and bring awareness to. Things like this are what remind me to not be sad, but rejoice in my loved one’s sacrifice for our country.
Stephen Siller was brave and selfless enough to jump into a collapsing building to save the lives of others, knowing that there was a chance he wouldn’t make it out alive. That is a freaking hero people! As good ole’ honest Abe once said “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” People like my father and Stephen Siller are embodiments of that quote, and I think Abe would’ve liked them as well. Thank you so much to the Siller Family for everything you do.
And Freedom Alliance, wow I mean I don’t know where to begin. The people I have met through this organization are people that I will honestly cherish for the rest of my life, friends that I will stay in contact with forever, mentors that have taught me so much and that really genuinely care immensely for each and every student that receives this scholarship. I consider myself truly blessed to have been able to come across these people in the short life I’ve lived. And I could never repay them for all that they have done for me and the doors they have opened for me and the opportunities that they have made possible for me.
The famous poet, Maya Angelou, once stated “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I hope that tonight, I’ve made that kind of impact on you all – like my father always did.