American Spirit Essay Contest Winner

Kristen Aeschlimann

Kristen Aeschlimann of Pleasant View is the winner of this year’s contest. She wrote about her experience as a mother of a police officer and how she reacted to the phone call no mother wants to get. Hers is a powerful story and one that everyone can appreciate. She was presented an award at the “Constitution Celebration” hosted by Kathy Smith at Liberty Hall in Farr West. Kristen received a plaque and a check for $500. Awards of $200 each were presented to three runners-up. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

“Why American Spirit Matters” by Kristen Aeschlimann

“One officer killed. Another injured.” Those words will forever be etched in my heart. In May 2020, my then 25-year-old son, Dylan, was one of two officers dispatched to a domestic violence call. The other officer was his very best friend, Nate. Time stood still as I waited for an update. Had my Dylie been killed? Was it Nate? Either scenario was heart wrenching. How badly was the other officer injured? Would he recover? My heart and mind raced. When your child risks his life to protect a mother and her children who are in danger, you come to understand the American spirit in a way you never did before.

The homeowner open-fired with an assault rifle through his closed front door as Dylan and Nate stood on the porch. Dylan watched in horror as Nate was shot in the head, just a few feet from him. Without having a second to grieve what he’d just witnessed, Dylan jumped into action because he was under heavy fire. I can’t imagine what he must have felt- alone, afraid, his heart aching. I’m so grateful for two Adult Probation and Parole agents who through divine intervention were in the area and responded to see if the two officers needed assistance. One of the AP&P agents was shot as he arrived on scene. The other was able to return fire and divert the shooter’s attention, which saved Dylan’s life.

My Dylie has a heart of gold. He loves deeply and has this contagious enthusiasm for life. You can’t help but smile if you see him singing and dancing to the radio, driving down the road. He’s a devoted father to his 5-year-old son. When he calls me, “Mama” my heart melts. To say that Dylan loves law enforcement is an understatement. It’s his purpose and passion. He lives to protect and service those around him. I never envisioned Dylan becoming a police officer, but now it’s part of him.

Though shaken and broken-hearted, Dylan hasn’t let the horror of that day define him or keep him from doing what he was put on earth to do. Porches still send a shiver down his spine, and there isn’t a single day that he doesn’t miss his best friend. Dylan doesn’t know why his life was spared. Their roles could easily have been reversed. He lives each day to the fullest and is committed to doing the good in the world he knows Nate would have done. He believes Nate is here beside him, watching over him.

The American spirit is courage and resilience in the face of tragedy. It’s hope amidst heartache and a devotion to doing what’s right no matter the cost. It’s resourcefulness, sacrifice, gratitude, and love. The American spirit matters because it’s charity. “…charity never faileth… charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever…” (Moroni 7:46-47) Charity has the power to save not only our country but the world.

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