By Staff Sgt. Carrie CastilloFebruary 5, 2016
DARIEN, Ill. - Closure is the hardest emotion to endure when a loved one has passed, especially when the loved one is a Soldier. The Soldiers of the 416th Theater Engineer Command along with the Survivor Outreach Services (S.O.S.) and St. John's Lutheran Church helped those families left behind gain some closure with a candle lighting ceremony on Oct. 4.
This was the third year that Dawn Sands, S.O.S. coordinator of Cook and Du Page counties, collaborated with the Army Reserve Soldiers at the 416th TEC and St. John's.
"We really worked on putting this event together over the last 2 months, but it is really on our minds starting at the first of the year," said Sands. "Some families are ready for this and some are not, but we reach out to all of them that have become part of the Survivor Outreach Services. This is the largest participation year, with 34 Soldiers remembered and close to 100 family members."
The 416th TEC has participated all three years, by sending representatives to speak to the group, read the names of the fallen and have the color guard open and close the ceremony.
The color guard also rendered salutes for each of the fallen as each family took turns lighting a candle for their dear departed.
Tasha Williams and Woodrow Williams III, Chicago, step-mother and father of Sgt. 1st Class Jerome "Boo" Baker, Illinois National Guard, took the stairs together with other family members to light their candle. The entire Williams family wore their now iconic black shirts with a photo of their Soldier covering their backs, as if to always be "watching their 6."
"We were here for the first [ceremony], and we love it," said Woodrow. "The program has been very helpful to our family. Meeting the other families of the fallen Soldiers [here] has helped a lot."
"When it was our first time here, everyone was coming up to us and welcoming us," said Tasha. "Now that this is our third time we are the ones welcoming others. We will continue to come here."
The families came from all over the Chicago region, mostly from Cook and Du Page counties but also a far as a town near the Wisconsin state line. But, but this ceremony pulled them together for about an hour in hopes to gain a little more closure.
"I thank you, I am honored to be here with you," said Maj. Kenneth Carlson, 416th TEC chaplain. "Know this, we in the military do this because we love our country but most importantly because we love you."