PELHAM, Ala. -- Many youngsters and young Soldiers have visions of heroism, facing an insurmountable foe against overwhelming odds and surviving as a hero or going down in a blaze of glory.
For Army 2nd Lt. Matthew Blount, this was never the case. His motivation for everything he did, in and out of the Army uniform, was service - to his family, his community and to his country.
"He was all about self-sacrifice," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Troy Tarazon at Blount's burial service in Alabama, March 13. "He was not about himself, ever." Blount passed away on March 10 of this year after having fought both leukemia and cancer, less than 72 hours after he realized his dream of an Army commission.
"When I think of the traits of a good Soldier, Matt comes to mind as that example," said Army Reserve Ambassador and retired Maj. Gen. James W. Darden who was the guest speaker at the event. "This young man did everything he did, not for personal gain, but for the protection of others." Darden compared Blount to various examples of biblical heroes to illustrate his desire to serve his fellow man.
On December 15, at the First Baptist Church of Pelham, a special service was held for the installation of a stained glass window in memory of his service as a Boy Scout leader, a combat medic and a pillar of his church community. The image is that of a praying Soldier, down on one knee next to a cross with a descending dove above it. Since Blount was a medic in northern Iraq, a medic's bag sits on the ground next to the Soldier. There is a shadowed U.S. flag in the background and an Eagle Scout badge in the bottom corner, also in shadow.
The idea for the Praying Soldier design came to his father, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Barry Blount as the "key thing" that defined his son's spirit. As a 21-year-old in sergeant in 2003, his son was the senior medic in his unit supervising three others. "He prayed every night that he did not lose his cool and that everything he had been taught would work," his father said. "Because the life of that Soldier, he had to live with." Blount said his son worried every night whether or not as a medic he had done the right things which was why for the greater peace of mind he had chosen to commission as a military police officer and not as a medical officer.
The window itself is much more than colored glass taking up the space in a wall. "This window represents a life achievement that was unscripted for our son that embodied everything that you see here, everything that he believed," said Terrie Blount, Matt Blount's mother. "He really wanted to help people, that was his mindset." She said he had not wanted to be an infantry Soldier or anything that might put him in a position to cause harm to others. "He was an Eagle Scout, always prepared and he was a believer, a Soldier of Christ." Although not represented in the window, Blount was also a husband and father, a son and a brother. His older brother was in the Army Reserve and his younger brother is still on active duty stationed in Germany.
For us, [the window] is a constant reminder that a short life, well lived, goes a long way in really having a legacy that other people can strive toward," she said. "It's a piece of Matt that can be a testimony of what he endeavored to be."
The window is the first of its kind in the church, in that it doesn't portray a biblical story but the result of such stories that were embedded in the spirit of a Soldier who lived a life that also exemplified the Army value of selfless service. Although a headline at the time of his passing read "An honorable finish," it is not the end of Matthew Blount's heroic legacy -- a short life, well lived for the benefit of others.