A Grateful Nation Pauses to Remember

Author: Taylor Strong

I will never forget how beautiful the weather was on September 15, 2014. It was a crisp fall day, which was unseasonable for southern North Carolina. I was on my way down to a check-up in Wilmington for my pregnancy. Charles and I were expecting our first baby, a girl, due in the beginning of December. On my way down to Wilmington, he called me from Afghanistan to let me know he loved me and he would call me later. I didn't know it was the last time I would hear his voice.

Taylor Strong and daughter

Shortly after I returned back from my appointment, I received notice that Charles had been killed. Devastation and confusion were an understatement. How could I go from planning a nursery to planning a funeral for my husband in one day? It wasn't a choice; it was imperative that I kept going - for our unborn baby, for him, for me. 

Taylor Strong and daughter

Life looks incredibly different almost now. I have a beautiful, thriving toddler who has the exact same glittery blue eyes as her daddy, and I have kept moving just like I told myself I would from the moment of impact. As we approach Memorial Day, I pause and think how different this holiday is to us now. What it truly means. My daughter and I will be forever changed, and we will always view this "holiday" as a time of remembrance, honor and significant sacrifice. 

The time since Charles's passing has been very difficult, to say the least, but I take some peace in knowing his heart, and that was a heart of service. Sophie will know her father as a hero, and I couldn't think of a more accurate description of him if I tried. He and all of the others who have paid the ultimate sacrifice will be honored on this day, and we as a grateful nation will pause to remember. 

Photos Courtesy of Taylor Strong