Family Comments of Evan at the Funeral
I want to thank all of you for coming on behalf of the family. I want to give you a perspective of Evan from the family. As you have heard, Evan was a young man who had multiple sides to his personality. As we talked as a family this week, it was remarkable how we all knew Evan the same way.
I would like to take a few minutes to tell you about some of the things we discussed and cherished. Some of you did not know him, but you are here out of respect of a fallen hero. Some of these things I say, you will find new, some amusing, and some you who know him will just nod your head and say to yourself, yes,,, I understand that about Evan.
Evan was a scraper among his friends and family. Evan was also the agitator. If trouble did find Evan, he looked for it. But I say this in a loving way. He lived life with all the gusto he could.
Evan lived with an open heart. You never had to wonder if he was happy, sad, hurt or angry. You never had to wonder what was on his mind. Evan wore his heart on the outside. He never bottled anything up inside.
Evan was a very forgiving person. Sure he would get upset, we all do. But it seemed like Evan was the first to forgive and let things go. Evan would also try to heal broken relationships. That is something we can all learn to do better.
Anita had to earn the role being the mother to Evan. Some children are easy to parent. If you are a parent out there, you know exactly what I mean. Evan had the unique combination of showing you his emotions and also being very forgiving.
Evan hated his freckles. Anita would tell him that they were kisses from God. But he would respond that if this was so, God kissed him way too often.
Evan was a tough competitor. He would not back down from a challenge. On one occasion, Lance dared Evan to ride his bicycle. He took on the challenge, fell off and 75 stitches later, Evan showed Lance that he would take on any challenge.
Tonya recalls watching Evan play soccer as a young child. He would fall down as if he was seriously injured. But about the time that she was about to run onto the field, he would pop up and continue playing. As if nothing had happened.
Andre remembers when Evan, at age 5, called him his “big brother”. That was very meaningful. Evan was a very loving person.
When Evan was 8, he swore that he saw a lama in the pasture where he grew up. Yes, I said a lama. Of course, no one really believed him or saw the lama themselves. After all, we knew of no one who had lamas in this area. But Evan would not back down. We believe that was likely the first question he asked God last week: “Was that really a lama in the pasture? Maybe you could send another one to show them that I was right.” So do not be surprised as you travel north out of town some day, if you see a lama out there in the pasture. If you do, you now know where it came from.
Evan’s greatest hero was Grandpa Dunlap. Evan tried to model himself after his Grandpa. He would intently listen to what his Grandpa taught him.
On Evan’s football games in high school, Grandpa Dunlap would sit on the 10 yard line in a lawn chair. On one occasion, a player from Norwich grabbed Evan by the facemask and dramatically threw him to the ground right in front of Grandpa. As you can imagine, Evan was getting up ready to get even. Grandpa saw what was going to happen and hollered at Evan. That was enough. Evan did not retaliate, even though he was ready to.
When Lance and Evan played any kind of sport, the battle was on. I used to play with them, but two things happened when I turned 45 years. I realized that I was just getting old; these kids were now bigger than I was and that this was simply not a game, but a war. You see, I was not up to the challenge of risking 75 stitches to prove I could do something.
Evan’s competitiveness followed him to the ski slopes of Colorado. He was a daredevil. On one occasion the ski patrol came to Anita and asked: “Is that your son? You need to tell him to stay out of the trees and stay on the slopes. If he can not, the ski patrol assured Anita that his lift ticket would be taken away. On one occasion, Evan took my son through the trees. On that occasion, my son hit one of those trees and had a slight memory loss until the next day. My son was okay, but can you start seeing the pattern here with Evan?
Evan was a good role model to Caleb, his youngest brother. He was a good teacher in sports and Evan would stand up for Caleb on the playground. They would play very competitive video games on the computer. When Caleb got older, he began competitive wrestling in high school. Caleb was just waiting for his senior year so he could wrestle Evan. Caleb thought at that time, it may be an even match.
Evan and Tara were avid card players. Lance often thought he was cheating he won so much. Before his tour in Iraq, he worked Security night shift in downtown Kansas City. When he returned from work, Tara and Evan would stay up talking on how his night went.
Evan always enjoyed family celebrations. He was very oriented to the family. When Evan was in Iraq, he would call at such celebrations as a wedding of his cousin. We know that it hurt him that he could not be there.
He loved his children so much. He would call back weekly from Iraq to talk to them.
Evan lived with an open heart. He signed up to the Army for a cause. His cousin, who served with him at Scholfield Barracks in the Army, knew that he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Both in the lives of the people in Iraq and the people back here in the United States. To him, Iraq was another challenge that he would not back down. That took real courage. He downplayed the risks in Iraq to his family.
Evan loved his country. When he was called back to serve in Iraq, he knew this is what he needed to do. This summer, he had a leave to come back to Kansas from Iraq. But when his leave was over, he wanted to go back to his men. He believed in what he was doing in Iraq.
So if you could take one thing away from here today. Be like Evan and learn to forgive one another. Evan taught us not to hold on to a grudge. Life is too short to go around holding on to a hurt. Be the bigger person and forgive one another. After all, what you are holding is really not important when compared to eternity. You do not want to have your life end or have someone else’s life end while holding on to something that you really wish you had let go.
This is the legacy of Evan. In your own walk, take on the challenges that life gives you, give it all the gusto you can, never let life get you down, learn how to forgive others and look for your own lamas in life. For who knows, they may really be there. Will you stand and join me in our tribute to Evan.
Lloyd E Dunlap