FRONT ROYAL, VA-Students at
"Even though I didn't know him personally, getting to talk about him and everything he did to serve our country, I almost knew him personally," says McKenzie Marshall, Cadet 2nd Lieutenant at
As a Navy SEAL, Valentine served in
"He never hesitated," says Christina Valentine, the Navy SEAL's widow. "It was what he did. It was who he was, and it really defined the rest of our lives. And, it ultimately is the reason that he's no longer with us," she says of his service.
Valentine left behind his wife Christina who graduated
"People talk about medals and things like that, but he turned down a silver star twice," says Valentine. "He didn't feel he was worthy of it. As a leader, it was his job to lead his men," she adds.
As a military family, the Valentine's loss is tragic and personal, but they say their pain is shared with countless others.
"Not only we are the ones who went through the same pain, but my friends have gone through the same," says the Navy SEAL's daughter, Meghan Valentine. "They've been ten years without his dad and I've only been four... So, I appreciate what he's done, what they do and how they can still hold on," she adds.
"They really just gave it all and they're giving it all still," says John Valentine, the son. "They're leaving their families for almost a year-and-a-half. So that means a lot," he adds.
Now, four years later, John and Meghan are overwhelmed to be at their mother's school, alongside future servicemen and women, who are honoring a hero they never met.