The Wheaton North High School community continues to remember Robert Miller and celebrate his life.
The 2002 graduate, who went on to receive the Medal of Honor for giving his life in Afghanistan, was honored Thursday during a Veterans Day assembly featuring one of only 86 living Medal of Honor recipients.
Allen Lynch, who was honored for carrying three men to safety in Vietnam, told more than 2,000 students that "life is about more than just me," as Staff Sgt. Miller demonstrated on Jan. 25, 2008, the day he died.
"Every death is tragic," Lynch, of Gurnee, said. "But the difference is, Sgt. Miller's death meant something. He died that others might live."
Miller already had been shot twice when he made his final push toward Taliban forces to divert fire away from his fellow soldiers. He continued to fire and throw grenades until he couldn't anymore.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who also attended the assembly, described Miller as having a "servant's heart" and a "special devotion to excellence."
"He understood that service to others is the rent we pay for our place on God's Earth," Quinn said. "Robert Miller held all of us in his arms."
Paul Herbert, executive director of the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park, said of an estimated 50 million people who have served in the military, only 3,448 have received the Medal of Honor.
Miller is the second Wheaton resident to receive the medal, and was the third soldier to be honored with it for action in Afghanistan.
"We can't all be military heroes," Herbert said. "But we can honor Rob's life by recognizing we all have duties and responsibilities, and we all (can) serve above and beyond the duties we've undertaken."
At Thursday's assembly, students also introduced and applauded more than 30 veterans from across the area who have served in different capacities, as well as seven students who plan to join the military upon graduation.
"This is a day of remembrance of those who came before us and gave their last measure of devotion to our democracy," Quinn said.