Between barbeques, holiday parties and other festivities that many will likely partake on Memorial Day, hopefully, we all take a moment of reflection for those, who have bravely faced our foes, but have lost their lives. You can bet that one Southern California prospect and his family will. Two-sport standout Brando Tessar (6-1, 185, 4.42) from West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade, lost his uncle on Halloween, 2005 in Iraq.
Tessar's uncle, Jonathan Tessar, served this country valiantly for over 19 years and was getting ready for retirement, but he was compelled to go into harm's way one more time and be with his soldiers.
Sgt. First Class Tessar was in command of 250 soldiers. He didn't have to ride in the lead vehicle, but this Green Beret, Ranger, paratrooper and a former tactical warfare instructor, who also served in Bosnia and in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, would have nothing to do with that. He was a leader and his lead vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, taking Tessar's life and three other of our brave soldiers.
Holiday's such as Memorial Day bring a more personal meaning Brando Tessar and his family.
"I remember what he did for this country and why, he did, what he did," Tessar said. "He served for a long time."
"The way he passed, he really wasn't supposed be in the lead vehicle, but it was really honorable," Tessar said. "So this day is for me, is to remember him, and thank him for what he did."
"I didn't get to see much of my uncle because he lived in North Carolina and was gone most of the time, but about two months before he left, my grandfather died and he came out for the ceremony," Tessar said. "We were able to see him for about two weeks."
"It was bad because my grandfather died, but we were able to see him for about two weeks, and he was able to spend a lot of time with us, that was good," Tessar said. "We think it happened for that reason."
The day that Tessar found out about his uncle's death, Tessar's dad and brother of the fallen hero, Bill Tessar, picked him up at school. The younger Tessar knew there was something wrong.
"When my dad picks me from school, we always talk about everything," Tessar said. "My dad was really quiet and we were on the freeway. He pulled over and broke down. He didn't tell me what happened yet. Then he told me and we stayed on the side of the freeway for maybe an hour and half."
"It was a hard time," Tessar said. "My uncle was the only part of my dad's family that he grew up with that was still alive. We had just lost my grandpa earlier. It was really hard."
When Tessar plays football, he has a special way of remembering his fallen uncle and his grandfather.
"On my left wrist I have my grandfather's initials and on my right wrist I out my uncles initials," Tessar said. "I do all of my athletic stuff for my grandpa and my uncle. It reminds me why I am playing. It gives me motivation."
Tessar uses that motivation and has become an outstanding two-way athlete who is getting serious attention for his skills on the gridiron and the baseball diamond.
Things picked up for Tessar and the football team in general by the arrival of the much respected Ed Croson to coach the Chaminade squad.
"Coach Croson is a great guy," Tessar said. "Just the difference in our weight training program in the offseason has been unbelievable. He's a really smart guy."
"I've had more gains in the weight room this offseason than I have the last previous three years in high school," Tessar said. "He really knows what he's doing."
"We just started spring practice and it is just amazing how he runs his practices," Tessar said. "Our numbers aren't that great right now, but we still look much better than last year."
When you play football and baseball at the level of Tessar picking between the two could be difficult.
"Right now football and baseball are pretty even right now," Tessar said. "I'm trying to play college sports, whatever it takes, that's what I'm going to do."
"I would like to play football," Tessar said. "I don't think anything can beat the college football experience."
Tessar has been the main attraction for college football coaches showing up on the Chaminade this spring.
"The last week of baseball," Tessar said. "Cal and UNLV came out and they actually came to the baseball field to watch me and see how athletic I was. They wanted to see me run. I thought that was pretty cool."
"On Friday (May 22nd), I had Portland State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Nevada come by in the morning," Tessar said. "Then I had Fresno State and Washington State came by in the afternoon."
"The day before that David Nichol of Arizona came out, so there have been a lot of colleges that have been coming by," Tessar said. "They all know Coach Croson and he has great connections. That has been helping out a lot."
Tessar is planning a very busy camp schedule over the next month or so.
"On the 31st, I am going out to Wyoming," Tessar said. "That will be the first camp and then every weekend after that I will be in a different state. Some weekends I will in three states at once."
"I'll be going to Arizona, Cal, Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, UCLA, and San Diego State," Tessar said. "I'm going to be pretty busy."
For a young man Tessar already has a sense of service. On Memorial Day, he will be helping out at his local baseball field, umpiring games and doing whatever he can to make the day run smoothly for the youngsters.
Tessar and his family will also be thinking of a man, who is still very much alive in their hearts, and that is Sgt. First Class, Jonathan Tessar who grew up in Simi Valley, Calif., who gave his life as George Orwell aptly wrote so, 'We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.'