Gold Star sister on the loss of her brother: ‘Memorial Day is never going to be easier for me’

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — On this Memorial Day, people in the Chattahoochee Valley paused to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

One of those services was fittingly at the parade field at the National Infantry Museum. It is on that same field that soldiers graduate from Basic Training and move into the service.

Sgt. Ronald Kubik was killed April 23, 2010 in Afghanistan. His big sister, Mary Kubik, was one of about 200 people at a Memorial ceremony Monday morning at the National Infantry Museum.

The Gold Star’s sister has a tattoo of her brother on her left arm. It holds special meaning.

“We were raised Catholic and had to pick a Confirmation saint,” Mary Kubik said. “And, my brother picked Michael the archangel because he slayed the devil, because he was there to defeat the devil to keep things just. So, I wanted him as Michael.”

Mary Kubik explained the wording on the tattoo.

“The phrase underneath is Latin and it means ‘Let justice be done even if the heavens fall,’” she said. “Because there’s no reason not to do the right thing.”

Harsh reality taught Mary Kubik the meaning of Memorial Day – and sacrifice.

“Memorial Day is never going to be easier for me,” she said. “Because I know what it was like to not know or feel what this day meant, to have a reverence for it without it being real to me. And now that it’s real to me, some of the things I see and hear, it just changes your perspective.”

Even battle-tested warriors must pause to collect their thoughts when talking about fallen comrades.

Such was the case with Maneuver Center of Excellence Command Sgt. Maj. Derrick Garner. A product of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, Garner spoke from the heart, which was covered by his Ranger Tab.

When asked about three men he named, he paused.

“Wow,” Garner said. “Sgt. Irving Hernandez from New York. Sgt. Eric Colby Newman. Sgt. Hansen Kirkpatrick from Alaska. Married to Anastasia Kirkpatrick. I mean great men. Great, great men all three of them. For them, it was never about them. It was always about the teammate, left and right. It was always about their family. Loved those guys to death.”

And those men and the others who did not make him home provide a compass for a career soldier like Garner.

“Whenever there is a time and I am feeling down, I am thinking about those guys,” Garner said. “I always reflect on what they would want. What those guys would want is for me to preserve, push forward and remember them. But not to be significantly overwhelmed by their losses.”

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