Carrying the Burden


I was one of fifty volunteers who carried a Fallen Hero banner in our local July 4th parade. As part of the Fallen Heroes Banner Project, these traveling banners are carried in parades and celebrations across America—honoring soldiers lost since 9/11. I held Army Sergeant Nathan Wyrick’s banner.

Once I got home I looked up his obituary online. He’d been sent to Iraq twice, and died in Afghanistan in 2011. 

He’d been a dutiful dad to his four young sons and was always helping others. He loved serving in kid’s ministry at New Hope Community Church. A close friend said, “He was a dad first and foremost, and a soldier second.” 

When military friends were deployed, Nathan acted as a dad for other families’ kids. His generous heart touched many.








That generous heart stopped beating when he was just thirty-four. I can only imagine the hole left in the hearts of his wife and sons. 

I carried his banner for less than two miles, they carry their loss for the remainder of their lives.







Photo Credit: David Soder





I was in awe as the parade crowds respectfully stood, some saluting, others with hands over their hearts, and others clapping for the Fallen Heroes. 








I overheard a father, in heavily accented English, tell his young children that the banners were pictures of solders who had died in war.

“Why did they die, Daddy?” the youngest son asked.

“Because they loved their country and fought for freedom.”






I’m not sure if it was this dad’s response, or that I was carrying the banner of a man who would never again see his sons enjoy a parade with him, but tears slid down my cheeks. Thousands have died for my freedom, and thousands more continue to serve our nation.  


To all the Gold Star Families—who’ve lost far more than I have, saying ‘thank you’ will never be enough. But I promise to honor the memories of those you’ve lost.

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