Sunday, August 12, 2012
Several Kansas families were honored at a special ceremony Sunday. All of the families in attendance lost loved ones who were killed while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The ceremony was held at the American Legion Post 4 in Wichita where a traveling memorial called “Remembering Our Fallen” is currently being shown. The memorial will be there for the next week so people can visit and see the faces of the 72 Kansans killed in war zones since 9/11.
Karen Funcheon's and Debbie Austin's sons both joined the military after high school.
“He found himself in the Army,” Funcheon said.
"I saw a whole new son. He finally found himself. He found respect for himself,” Austin said.
Sgt. Alexander Funcheon and Private First Class Shane Austin both died while fighting for their country in the Middle East.
"I got a knock on the door around 4:30 in the afternoon and there were two faces there with the words, 'We regret to inform you.' Those are five words a mother never wants to hear and you know at that point you're life is totally changed,” Austin said.
“You just think it's a nightmare you're going to wake up from - and it's not,” Funcheon said.
Pictures of these two soldiers and 70 other Kansans killed in a war zone since 9/11 make up the "Remembering Our Fallen" traveling memorial.
Both mothers say they've seen the memorial before, but say attending ceremonies honoring their sons like this never gets any easier.
“It's humbling, it's very humbling to have something like this. I'd rather not be here, but I am. If he's being honored than I will be here for him to accept that honor for him,” Funcheon said.
"The pain does not get easier, but you do become stronger,” Austin said.
The “Remembering Our Fallen” memorial will be at the American Legion Post 4 on Water Street until Aug. 19. It's open every day from noon until 7 p.m. and admission is free.