Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — Memorial Day weekend has taken on a more poignant meaning for Teresa Troup since her son decided he needed to do his duty to protect the country.
"One day he slid me his Navy recruiter's card," she said, remembering his days in boot camp as "one of the most painful times of my life."
But on this Memorial Day weekend, she's bursting with pride and sharing a ray of sunshine with visitors to the WRAL Freedom Balloon Festival.
"I'm here because I had a blast last year," Troup said.
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While Troup serves close to home, her son Shannon Douglas Johnson is aboard the USS Laboon in the Middle East.
Dressed in bright shoes and vest, she greets each carload of guests and helps them find the balloons, food, music and the Field of Flags at Fuquay-Varina's Fleming Loop Park.
"This is the place where we are going to honor and pay homage to those who have given life and limb," said Jean Reaves of NC AMVETS.
Flags will fly in honor of the United States military whether or not the weather allows the balloons to take off.
Organizers had hoped to see a "mass ascension," where numerous hot air balloons lift off at once, on Friday evening, but the wind was a bit too strong to allow that.
Pilots look for steady breezes of less that 10 mph, said festival organizer Tom Lattin.
Skies will be clear and temperatures in the 70s for the other festival activities Friday evening. Food trucks were serving dinner and two bands were scheduled to entertain. At dusk, balloons will be inflated and glow, a colorful, uplifting show.
"We're going to so some type of show for the crowd, we're just waiting to see what Mother Nature tells us," Lattin said.