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Saber-rattling wedding: Military ceremony precedes guardsman's deployment to Afghanistan

POSTED: December 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.
For The Times/

Ryan Hanson, left, is deploying in February to Afghanistan. He will marry his fiancee, Amanda Hansen, Saturday in Braselton.

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HOSCHTON — This Thanksgiving weekend will be a memorable one for Ryan Hanson, 20, Amanda Hansen, 18, and their families.

Apart from eating plenty of turkey, the couple is finishing the final touches on their upcoming wedding.

On Saturday, about 130 family members and friends will come to the Braselton-Stover House in Braselton to celebrate the young couple’s union.

They began dating three years ago after meeting in a chemistry class at Jackson County Comprehensive High School.

Now both live in Dahlonega, where Amanda attends North Georgia College & State University. They chose Jackson County for their wedding because of its location — both have family members who live in the area.

The couple’s Christmas-themed wedding will be different from most ceremonies in that they will have a traditional military ceremony.

Ryan, a member of the Georgia Army National Guard, entered the military three years ago and said it had been his lifelong dream.

"When I was really young, I decided I wanted to go into the Army," he said.

His father, Rick Hanson, is also an inspiration. The elder Hanson retired from the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a lieutenant colonel after 20 years of service. When his son joined the Georgia Army National Guard at Fort Gillem in Atlanta, dad swore him in.

A traditional military wedding involves several different rituals.

Ryan Hanson said some wedding party members, including his father and best man, Alex Hughes, will dress in their military uniforms. The bride and groom will cut the cake with a saber.

"It’s going to be filled with all the pomp and circumstance
associated with (a military wedding) to include a saber arch, bugle calls ... all of the traditions of the military are going to be intertwined in the wedding," Hanson’s father added.

The soon-to-be newlyweds said they chose this Saturday to get married because of Ryan’s military commitment.

"We’re having the ceremony now because he’s going to Afghanistan," Amanda said.

Ryan recently went on active duty and in February will be deployed with the Newnan-based Bravo Company, 2nd of the 121st Infantry Unit. This will be his first time going overseas.

When asked how this Thanksgiving will compare with last year’s, Ryan said, "It’s going to be a lot more hectic."

"And sad," Amanda added.

"How’s it going to be sad?" he asked her.

"Because you’re going to be gone next Thanksgiving," she said.

Once deployed, Ryan said he will spend nine or 10 months in Afghanistan.

This Thanksgiving, Ryan and Amanda spent the day visiting Ryan’s parents, Rick and Nancy, Amanda’s father, Rick Hansen of Jefferson, and her mother, Karen Minard of Cumming.

Wedding guests will arrive just in time for Thanksgiving, and Ryan Hanson’s mother, Nancy, plans to have a "traditional dinner" to feed the 15 or 20 expected guests.

"I think it’s going to make it a little easier on my family because we are going to be surrounded with our family and our friends," she said. "This will be their opportunity to say goodbye to him (Ryan). I think it’s going to be a joyous time."

Rick Hanson agreed.

"I think it’s going to be an incredibly rewarding time for us this year," he said. "Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, and it’s going to be a great time of celebration as well."

Both Ryan and Amanda said they are just happy to be together.

"I’m so thankful to have him because next Thanksgiving I won’t. He’ll be gone still," Amanda said.

She’s also grateful for her family and friends.

"They’re going to be a lot of support with him gone," she said.

Ryan echoed his fiancee’s sentiments.

"I’m so thankful for her, my friends (and) my family," he said.


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