‘Didn’t make it home’: Utah honors fallen service members on Memorial Day

Local News

SANDY, Utah (ABC4) – Memorial Day 2021 was an occasion to reflect and remember the Utahns who laid down their lives in service to our country. Throughout the state, their sacrifices and legacies were honored.

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Patriotic music gave wave to a somber remembrance at Monday’s ceremony held at Larkin Sunset Garden Cemetery in Sandy.

“Memorial Day is our most solemn American holiday,” Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, said. “Throughout America today, we honor the dead of our wars. We recall their valor and their sacrifices. We remember that they gave their lives so that other might live.”

Meanwhile, Governor Spencer Cox addressed the families of Utah’s fallen soldiers in a recorded message.

“To our Gold Star families, I recognize that I lack the words to ever do justice to what you feel on this day and that I can never fully know the sacrifices you have made,” Cox said. “Allow me to express my appreciation on behalf of all Utahns. We are all the better for your strength and resiliency.”

In Farmington, a still, yet very moving display: 313 boots, each representing the life of fallen a Utah service member.

“It’s more powerful when you see all the boots that we have lined up,” Antoinette Stapley, the founder of Operation Hero, said. “It reminds you that these men and women went to serve, didn’t make it home.”

Stapley knows the pain and loss all too well. Army Sergeant Tracy L. Stapley was killed in Qatar on July 3, 2013, leaving behind Antoinette and their son and daughter. Now she runs Operation Hero to honor the memories of everyone who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Say their name,” Stapley said. “If you know someone who has passed away, say their name, tell their story, talk about them, reach out to the family…and tell the story.”

Cox added an acknowledgement of Utah’s military veterans who died of Covid-19 over the past year, saying that because of the pandemic, some were not buried with the military honors they deserved.

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