'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country'.
Perhaps, these words of the late US president John F Kennedy can best describe the spirit behind the sacrifice by three men, Col Vasanth V, Captain Harshan R and Naib Subedar Chuni, who will be awarded this year's 'Ashok Chakra' posthumously.
Displaying exemplary courage in the face of all odds, all three of them lost their lives fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir.
Vasanth, who was in the 9th regiment of Maratha Light Infantry, chose Indian Military Academy over an admission in IIM and laid down his life in a fire fight when he was leading an operation to flush out militants near Uri town in Jammu and Kashmir.
An idealist to the core, Vasanth, in 1997, had also encouraged his wife to set up an organisation, 'The Silent Front', dedicated to the widows of martyrs, as he felt that the stories of the spouses of soldiers were often untold.
In a sad turn of event, it would be his wife Subhashini who would receive the award from the President on January 26.
Captain Harshan laid his life leading a bloody battle with militants, who had outnumbered him in the encounter on March 20, 2007 in Lolab area of Jammu and Kashmir.
His father K Radhakrishnan Nair, who will receive the award, is naturally proud of Harshan but could not hide his emotions.
"The loss is irreparable and no material thing can fill the gap. I am really proud that my son who died while serving the nation and protecting the motherland. He showed exemplary courage at a budding stage of his life," Nair said.
For Harshan's mother Chitrambika G S, the news of her son's death was extremely painful and she remained bed-ridden for almost eight months.
"It still pierces my heart," she mumbled with uneasiness.
Like Variant and Harshan, Naib Subedar Chuni Lal, whose career had been full of professional achievements, was not to be satiated till the very end.
By killing three terrorists in his last battle, Lal inspired his small team to eliminate all other militants.
Chintha Devi, his wife, says that their 16-year-old son would follow his father's footsteps and join the army.
"All most all the male members in our family are in Army. And, I always want my son also to join the armed forces and fight for the country," she said.
For 16-year-old Manveer Singh, losing his father is a big blow but he wants to fulfill his father's wish by joining the Army.
"My father always wanted that I should join the army and I am working hard to get through the recruitment process," Manveer, a student of X standard said.