05/27/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Memorial Day. It's the "holiday" weekend many use as the start to summer. Cookouts, parties, picnics, and bon fires take place across the United States as a celebration of Memorial Day. But Memorial Day isn't exactly a happy holiday for many. For those who have lost loved ones in combat or have served themselves, Memorial Day is a day for reflection on the sacrifices made to keep America as the land of the free and the home of the brave. So with this being a "holiday week" a great story of sacrifice is that of Sgt. Chris Melendez.
At the age of 17, Chris Melendez enlisted in the military to protect his country. Born in East Harlem, New York and the son of a Vietnam Veteran, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 spurned Melendez to serve. As a member of the U.S. Army, Melendez headed to Iraq in 2004. Two years later, and just a month before his tour of duty was to end, Melendez's unit was struck by an improvised explosive device. Melendez would lose his left leg in the attack.
Melendez was resuscitated by combat medics three times on the battlefield before finally being stabilized. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his service. Despite the severity of his injuries, Melendez recovered quickly, at least from the physical part of it. When he returned home, post traumatic stress disorder followed him home. He frequently battled insomnia and nightmares. But again he persevered. Because besides being a soldier and defending his country, Chris Melendez had another dream to follow.
Since he was young, Chris Melendez loved professional wrestling. He watched wrestling from his childhood up until his enlisting in the military. He was even voted most likely to be a professional wrestler in high school. In 2011, Melendez pursued that dream. He started training in Brooklyn to become a wrestler, and through the Wounded Warrior Project was introduced to TNA Wrestling stars Ken Anderson and Team 3D. His story inspired Bully Ray of Team 3D so much, he offered to train Melendez for free.
Melendez made the dream of becoming a professional wrestler come true in 2014, when he signed a contract with TNA Wrestling. Melendez refused to let his injury stop him from accomplishing his dream. Working with a prosthetic leg, Melendez made his in ring debut last year and continues to work for TNA.
Chris Melendez said he worked hard to attain his dream and didn't let his handicap prevent him from getting there. In an interview conducted last year, Melendez said that he accomplished his dreams and wanted to show other people they can accomplish theirs too. His exact words were "I want to inspire hope".
Chris Melendez's story not only inspires hope. He's a true American hero who sacrificed for his country. And his story is one of sacrifice and success. A story that makes you proud to be an American.
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