Memorial Day – Before and After Through A Widow’s Eyes

Posted by Kathleen Smith

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We close National Military Appreciation Month with a post by Gold Star family member Shelly Hall, Director of the Victim-Witness Program for the Chattahoochee Judicial Court. Shelly and her children volunteer with many organizations that assist families of fallen soldiers, including Knights of Heroes, TAPS and Sons of the Fallen.

Memorial Day was always a favorite holiday for me. I remember as a young kid riding through Lakeside Cemetery and going to each and every parade yet never fully understanding the true meaning of the day. To me, at age 13 in Muskegon, Michigan, Memorial Day was simply a day to ride my bike, watch the parade, get free hot dogs afterwards and hang out with friends.

I grew up, met Kelly Hall and we fell deeply in love. I remember sitting with him watching the Panama Invasion and he couldn’t sit still, he said that he had to answer something inside of him. So, he signed up to join the military and quickly became part of the 82nd ABN. He was soon on his way to Operation Desert Storm. Kelly’s deep desire to serve his country and take care of his family stirred something in me that I had never felt before – a sense of pride and honor that could take my breath away.

As our love grew, so did our family and by 1998, we had 5 children under the age of 6. We headed to Germany where Kelly would be flying RC-12’s. Not 2 months into a 3-year tour, Kelly and another pilot were killed in a crash and that was the day that forever changed our lives.

Many years have gone by and although the pain is still there, for the most part we are doing well. There are certain things that bring the pain straight to the surface and Memorial Day is one of them. Whenever I see a fallen soldiers monument – it stops me in my tracks; and when I hear taps – I am immediately transported in time to November, 1998 and I am at a gravesite in Lakeside Cemetery, where fate played the cruelest of tricks on me. For the same place that I used to ride my bike as a kid is now the final resting place of the love of my life and the father of my babies.

Memorial Day means so much more to me that it ever used to – it is a day of pain and remembrance, but it’s also a day of honor and pride. Kelly was and always will be our hero. So as we take a deep breath and remember, we thank God for all of our heroes, for without them and their sacrifice, we would surely not have our precious FREEDOM!!

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 26, 2011 11:00 am

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