Last October, the Fort Douglas Military Museum hosted the dedication of the Utah Fallen Warriors Memorial — a 9,000-pound concrete slab from a slurry wall at the World Trade Center.
The slab is now permanently in place on the museum’s grounds and has been enshrined as a reflective spot for families who have lost loved ones in U.S. wars.
The night before that ceremony, the museum staged a special event for families of American soldiers killed in the wars, mostly those lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hundreds of Gold Star family members attended. More than a dozen stood before the microphone, addressing a crowd sitting in folding chairs, some standing among the shadows, all brought together in a common bond none ever wanted.
Museum director Bob Voyles, with a military honor guard nearby, patiently waited at the podium for whoever wanted to share thoughts about their fallen loved ones.
After a while, 9-year-old Carmin Rougle, of West Jordan, stepped to the microphone.
“My dad’s name,” she said, “is Larry I. Rougle and he was a staff sergeant in the United States Army. He joined the Army in March of 2000 and was accepted into one of the highest units known as the U.S. Army Rangers.
“He served with the Rangers until I was born in 2004, and we moved to Vicenza, Italy. There, my dad joined he 173rd Airborne sky soldiers. He became a platoon leader in a scout unit. The scouts go up ahead of everyone else and look for dangerous situations for the soldiers. He also used to jump out of airplanes for practice and also when he went to fight in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“On Oct. 23, 2007, the United States Army came to my house to tell my family and me that my dad had been killed. He was in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, which at the time was thought to be the most dangerous place in Afghanistan.
“I miss my dad very much but I am very proud of him and I’ll love him forever.”
She then read the following poem — titled simply “My Dad” — which she had written when she was 7:
My dad was a soldier, a ranger, the best!
God said it was time for him to go home to rest.
My dad was the strongest, the bravest, and alive.
He died far from his home from the state called the beehive.
My dad is my hero and I hope he knows,
My love will be with him wherever he goes.”
Carmin’s comments and poem are now preserved in a time capsule buried at the memorial site — and make for a fitting tribute this Independence Day.