Every year, Crown Royal holds the “Your Name Here” contest to find a name for the annual NASCAR race in Richmond, Virginia. This year they’ve named it after two military heroes, the “Crown Royal Presents The Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400.”
The Hansens were identical twin brothers who served in the Marines together. Daniel was killed in action in February of 2009 by a roadside bomb in the Farah province of Afghanistan. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and then was selected to protect President Bush at Camp David in 2004, before going to Afghanistan.
Matthew served in Iraq, but now works on a base in San Marcos, California, due to an injury. He expects to be deployed in the near future. Matthew has been named the race’s Grand Marshal, and his image will be ever-present on everything from the national broadcast to the race’s tickets.
Before the festivities kicked off, we caught up with Matthew to talk about the Marines, his brother, and manhood.
Why’d you join the Marines?
I think I had a superhero complex at the time. I always wanted to be a service member and wanted to join the military when I got out of high school. When I hit the right age, I went and talked to recruiters. To me, there was no question about it. The Marines are just the way to go. If you’re gonna do it, why not go for the best?
Who taught you about manhood?
Several men. There’s always different aspects of what it means to be a man. First and foremost, it was my father. He taught me about what it means to have value in yourself, so others will value what you say. You must always abide by what you say and be true to your word. Always put your best foot forward.
What two words describe your brother?
Just two words, huh? Selflessness and action. Always doing something and enjoying life.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be true to yourself. You are who you are. If you’re not happy with that, you only have yourself to blame. You make yourself who you are. No one else is gonna do that.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
Check this out, it’ll only hurt for a minute.
Who is the best man you know?
My brother. We were there with each other since before we were born. We were always there for each other and always made sure we were on the right track. He was never afraid to tell me if he thought I was doing something wrong or if he thought I could do something better. He wasn’t worried about my pride. He was worried about me. He wasn’t afraid to get in there and let his opinion be known.
When was the last time you cried?
Probably some time after when my brother was killed.
Actually, you know that movie Battle of Los Angeles? There were several scenes in there that really touched me, not only as a Marine, but also having lost a brother in combat, which has a lot to do with that movie.
They always say, “Would someone make a movie about your life?” and there it was, Staff Sergeant Marines right there on the big screen. I had to go see it.