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Wall of Heroes Honors Parents of Fort Bragg Students

Posted November 8, 2007
Updated November 9, 2007

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— Students at one Fort Bragg elementary school on Thursday unveiled a mural honoring their heroes – their soldier parents who are serving overseas.

In the past year, 65 percent of the 353 students at McNair Elementary have had parents deployed overseas, principal Tim Howle said.

On May 14, 2007, Maj. Larry Bauguess, 36, became the first parent from the school to be killed in combat in at least the past two years. He died the day after Mother's Day while serving in Pakistan.

Two parents of other McNair students, Keli Lowman and Trina Jerome, wanted to find a way to reach out to Bauguess's daughters, Ryann, 7, and Ellie, 5, who attend McNair. They came up with the idea of a mural dedicated to Maj. Bauguess and ran the idea by his widow, Wesley.

"I very humbly accepted, and it's a great way to honor them," Wesley said.

Howle grabbed onto the idea and envisioned expanding it: He wanted to create a Wall of Heroes at the school and open it in time for Veterans' Day. The Wall, of course, would be dedicated to Bauguess.

"He represents the ultimate sacrifice that all the soldiers who have died made," Howle said. "That family is everything that a military family should be."

April Bell, a 24-year-old visual arts student at Fayetteville State University, spent two weeks painting the mural. Maj. Bauguess' picture is centered on an American flag, with the definition of a hero painted beneath it. Below are pictures of all the students' parents who are deployed overseas.

Ryann and Ellie pulled down the curtain, unveiling the mural to flashing cameras at a ceremony on Thursday. Wesley was all smiles, accepting the support of those around them, but Ryann cried, seeing the face of her father again.

"It was the least we could do for Wesley to show that no matter what, everybody in this building was behind her," Lowman said. "And if she was to stumble and fall, we're there."

Welsey said she hopes the Wall of Heroes helps children and adults honor the families of those who are serving.

"I think when the children walk by and the staff walk by every day, it will just remind them of what our troopers are doing over there," she said.

7 Comments

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  • 1crazygirl Nov 9, 2007

    This is the best story I have read on here in a long, long time.

  • Tarheel Army Mom Nov 9, 2007

    Very touching and tugs at the heart strings. Great idea!

  • keiott Nov 9, 2007

    This is a great way for all of us to show our support for our millitary personel. Why don't we have these types of things in all of our public buildings? I believe that we not only should, but it should be required, as these people have given thier lives over for the welfare of this country. It doesn't matter if you agree with the war or not! Do you support our young men and women that are williing to follow the orders of there comanders and put thier lives in harms way for US?

  • tmedlin Nov 9, 2007

    This is a WONDERFUL idea! And many thanks to WRAL for allowing us to post photos of our OWN heroes online for Veteran's Day.
    Don't forget about the Parade Saturday morning in downtown Raleigh - it begins at 9:00 and is a GREAT way to say thanks to our troops - both past and present!

  • uncbabie Nov 9, 2007

    That third picture got me. What a tribute and wonderful idea. I'm glad they followed through with it.

  • cavscout Nov 9, 2007

    Very heart warming. If the rest of the country could get behind our Military personell this way, it would make for a better place to live.

  • ifonly Nov 8, 2007

    Thank you.