‘It’s not about veterans. It’s not about us’: Gold Star Family shares what Memorial Day really means
MADISON, Wis. — Behind every flag is someone who loved a hero. This Memorial Day, Kermit Hugo wanted to share his daughter’s story to remind everyone what this holiday is all about.
Memorial Day has been a heavy day for Hugo since his daughter, Rachael Hugo, died in the line of duty in Iraq 12 years ago.
“She [Rachael] was killed by an IED,” Kermit Hugo said. “They went out early in the morning and were headed to a joint security station. About 10 minutes from the station, there were a couple of guys that were sitting up at an apartment that had a handheld remote control that set off the IED out in the road. Her head hit the top of the Humvee and that was a mortal wound. It’s hard in the beginning. Probably five, six, seven years where it’s just always on your mind. Finally, it’s starting to get easier now.”
Every year on this day, he’s reminded of his daughter and the things he misses most.
“Her goofing around. She really had a lot of really funny things she would say and do. I can still see her through YouTube video and can hear her voice and see her smile, but there’s no grandkids, there’s no butterfly kisses for me to be able to give her away at her wedding. So that’s hard,” he said.
In October 2007, Hugo said he got the knock at his door that no parent ever wants to hear.
“There was a knock, and I looked out the window and all I could see were stars and stripes and I knew right away,” he said.
His daughter died doing what she loved.
“She just loved it, without question,” Hugo said.
Hugo said Rachael Hugo loved helping people. It wasn’t just that she liked doing it, she needed to do it, he said. It’s something Hugo said he’s proud of and something that the world is missing without her in it.
“There wasn’t hardly a second that would go by when she wasn’t on my mind or I was thinking about her,” he said.
Kermit Hugo comes back to the ceremony at the Capitol year after year to honor his daughter, to remind people that our freedom rests on the memories of our heroes and that our flag flies from the last breath of the soldiers who died protecting it.
“It’s their day today. It’s not about veterans. It’s not about us. It’s about them, strictly,” he said.
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