To Wind Or War, We'll Never Forget

The brick memorial at the entrance to the Red Cross on Stockwell Road.
The brick memorial at the entrance to the Red Cross on Stockwell Road.

The tragedy of an autumn tornado, combined with the sacrifice of life on foreign soil, will forever leave a mark on our communities who lost so much.

And now, it will forever mark the front entrance to the Red Cross on Stockwell Road.

Red Cross chairman Greg Folz says, "It's a way to say, 'Hey, we'll never forget you.'" Folz is referring to a special memorial in front of his building, where the names of both tornado victims and military personnel killed in action, are listed on red bricks. "It's something that will help the community remember forever, the contributions from those individuals."

Members of the victims' families joined Chaplain Tom Gasick for the ceremonial dedication of The Walk Of Life brick memorial.

Chaplain Gasick solemnly recited the names of those lost, both to wind and war. "As the names are read, family members may release their balloons." With balloons in the sky and names at their feet, emotions were hard to control.

Pam Stone's stepmother, Hilda Simmons, is a former nurse who lived at Eastbrook Mobile Home Park. On the night of November 6th, 2005, "We lost her in the tornado."

Now, Hilda's memory will live on forever. "'It's wonderful', I said, you know? I said, 'It's a wonderful thing to be memorialized.'" Stone continues, "But I hated that we had to go through all this, because it's just real hard."

In April, Jake and Melinda Lueken of Dubois, lost their son Eric to war. A Marine Corporal stationed in Iraq, Eric was killed by a roadside bomb.

Jake Lueken tells Newswatch, "It makes our family feel good, that he'll be remembered with a brick." Melinda adds, "He loved being a Marine. He was proud of what he was doing for the country. He was ready to go over to Iraq. He knew what could have happened."

It's a touching tribute to the fallen heroes and tornado victims - a reminder of all that was lost, for generations to come.

Candi Croft of the Red Cross tells us, "It's a memorial for their families. The families can come out at anytime, and they don't even have to come in the building. Just stop by, take a look. It's just our way of saying we remember them - and a thank you too, to the community, for everything they did."

The Red Cross just released figures on funding for tornado relief expenditures. To date, seven-months after the storm, they've spent nearly $1.2 million assisting with everything from groceries to funeral costs.

Those figures aren't surprising, considering 879 homes were damaged or destroyed by the tornado, 178 people were injured and 24 died.

In all, the Red Cross helped more than 850 families, in many different ways. "You cry with them. You try and laugh with them a little bit. It's just another way to say, 'We support you and we're here for you,'" adds Croft.

And the Red Cross wants the Tri-State to know how much they appreciate the tremendous outpouring of support, which made all of their efforts possible.