COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Each Memorial Day, we remember those we’ve lost who have served in our military.
For families who lost children fighting overseas, it’s a day to honor their sacrifice and share their stories with others.
“He was doing what he wanted to do and I think a lot of people can’t say that,” said Nancy Balthaser.
She lost her son U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jesse Balthaser in September 2010. He was killed in action while serving as a combat engineer in Afghanistan.
On Monday, Nancy and her husband set up some chairs next to Jesse’s grave to spend time with him. The day before, she said they spruced up his grave, brushing away the dead grass clippings.
“I call this cleaning his room,” she said. “We get everything, so it’s nice and neat.”
Because on Memorial Day, Jesse will have many visitors.
“I’ll just keep coming out here as long as I can, doesn’t matter where I live,” said family friend Chase Holt. “I’ll always come out here.”
Chase and Jesse were friends since childhood.
“He always wanted to help. He was always there for every one of us,” said Chase. “He joined the military in high school. He loved it. It was everything.”
Today, they’ll share stories about him.
“When they were deployed… if they especially had a pretty difficult mission, when they’d come back Jesse was kind of the one that helped them decompress, get to laugh a little bit,” said Nancy.
She doesn’t need a national holiday to honor and remember her son.
“Memorial Day means somebody is going to see his name, here at the cemetery,” she said.
But, hopes that a day like today will keep his memory from fading long after she’s gone.
“You want people to remember them,” said Nancy. “You don’t want him to be forgotten, pass out of the living memory.”
Jesse served five years in the Marine Corps and had just re-upped when he was killed in action. He was 23 years old.
Nancy said he has a daughter that he never got to meet, born just months after his death. She said her granddaughter reminds her of her son.