MISSING MEMORIES (Emotional Content Warning)

| February 17, 2020

Interesting perspective and a well-done article.

Quietly, and with little fanfare, the 16th anniversary of Aaron Weaver’s tragic death passed, but his memory continues to live on throughout friends and family, with one exception.

That of his daughter, Savannah, who was 18 months when Weaver was killed while on a Black Hawk helicopter en route to Baghdad for a checkup when the craft was shot down south of Fallujah, Iraq. The Jan. 8 crash killed eight other soldiers. As an Army Ranger, Weaver survived the October 1993 battle of Mogadishu in Somalia that was recounted in the book and film, “Black Hawk Down.” He helped save a buddy’s life and is featured in a documentary on the battle.

“I feel like I’m not used to expressing how it changed me and how I felt,” said the now 17-year-old Weaver, who will graduate this May from Citrus High. “I always have people telling me, ‘Your father was an amazing person.’ I never get to share my side.”

That is until she had to pen an essay as part of her application for Florida State University. The topic: “What formed your identity?”

Weaver, a three-sport standout for the Hurricanes, could think of nothing better than the death of her father.

“My father’s death was the main inspiration for who I am today,” Weaver explained. “It was definitely emotional; something happened to me, but I never talk about it in-depth or wrote about it, until now.”

Weaver often hears many stories about him, from her mom, Nancy, her extended family and his friends.

“She struggles with him, to remember him,” said her mom, Nancy.

To put it simply, Weaver said, “I don’t remember him.”

It’s hard, Weaver said, because people tell her stories of her dad and “nothing sparks a memory.”

“I hear all of these amazing things,” she said, “and I never got to experience how amazing he was for myself.”

While Weaver cannot remember his voice, his appearance or even the way he walked, Nancy said their daughter shares many of his traits and characteristics.

“Oh Lord,” Nancy quipped. “She is extremely driven, she excels in classes (a 4.6 grade point average); she plays three varsity sports. Whatever she puts her mind to, she achieves, which is a lot like her father.

“She is very confident. She holds herself to maybe a higher standard than most kids her age.”

By the time she graduates in May, Weaver will be close to having earned her associate’s degree, before she’ll make the trek to Tallahassee in the fall where she will continue her post-secondary education. Weaver plans to pursue a degree in psychology, with aspirations to become a neuropsychologist.

While just a handful of people have read her essay, that all changed Saturday at the 15th annual Purple Heart Ceremony on Saturday at the Citrus County Fairgrounds Auditorium, which was hosted by the Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776 Military Order of the Purple Heart. The organization was formed in April 2004, three months after Weaver’s death. By August 2004, the Chapter was officially chartered under the hand and seal of the National Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart of the United States of America Inc. as Aaron A. Weaver Chapter No.  776.

“We’ve been active in it since moving back in 2008,” Nancy said, noting the organization had reached out to her way back then. “We’ve participated in activities, fundraisers or public education about the military.”

Those in the organization have watched Weaver grow up.

“This Purple Heart group has done so much for our family,” Nancy said. “Anytime we’ve needed something, they’ve stepped up and provided.”

So after Weaver completed her essay, Nancy shared it with three members of the Chapter. Those members asked if she would share it during the annual event.

“We all felt it was important, because they’ve kept Aaron’s memory alive all these years,” Nancy said. “We thought it was important everyone hear her thoughts.”

Weaver admitted it was going to be difficult to make it through the event without being emotionally overwhelmed.

“I think showing my raw emotion made it even more powerful,” she said.

For Nancy, reading it silently isn’t an issue, but doing so aloud. That’s a different tale.

The conversation between Weaver and her mom took a turn.

“I feel like I never talked to you about with emotion behind it, how it’s affected me,” Weaver told her mother. “How I want him in my life.”

Added Nancy: “We always talk about him, not what you’re missing.”

There’s a pause in the conversation as they collect their emotions and thoughts.

Her father is never far away, especially with most of his family who resides in and around Citrus County. They share a close bond, Weaver said.

“It’s surreal because they’re my closest connection to my dad, more so than his classmates or friends,” she explained. “They truly remember how he was as a child until he died, I get to see everything. Not just the cancer survivor, the war hero, but the son, the brother.”

Weaver thinks of the father she never knew often, realizing the steps she has taken these past three-plus years at Citrus High, whether in the hallways or on the soccer field, might have been the same he made as a student.

“One of my favorite lines from the essay, is ‘we’ve lived the same life, 30 years apart,’” Weaver explained. “I truly feel like that, because I’m surrounded by him on the same field, the same walk through the same hallways, some of the same teachers are still there. I’m doing all of the same things he did. We could be taking the same footsteps.

“I feel like that’s the closest thing to a memory: Doing the same thing as he did, or being in the same place.”

Weaver’s hopes are it will provided “even a slight connection to him at all.” The lone item she has is a letter her dad had penned a month before his death; it was found in his lower pants pocket after his body was recovered. Weaver keeps it in a picture frame, adorning one of her bedroom walls.

 

 

Source: MISSING MEMORIES | Local News | chronicleonline.com

Category: Purple Heart, Valor, We Remember

Comments (17)

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  1. Doc Savage says:

    A bit dusty in here….

    • AW1Ed says:

      You too?

      • Doc Savage says:

        I look at this young ladies pic, and then at my daughter, and think to myself how fortunate I am to have returned from Iraq without a scratch and get to enjoy little things like kissing her cheek on her birthday.

  2. MI Ranger says:

    Yeah…my allergies are really making my eyes and nose run!

  3. FC2(SW) Ron says:

    Wow

  4. David says:

    Must be tree allergies, stretching all the way here to Texas. Wow.

  5. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    I need more tissues…my eyes are really, really wet right now…

    What an amazing family, what an amazing and heart touching story.

  6. 5th/77th FA says:

    Only thing blooming here is the azaleas and that old pear tree. Must be time to change the filters in the central unit…or something. Pet dander maybe?

  7. OWB says:

    Wow. Just WOW.

  8. Jay says:

    Gah….did NOT need to read this today! Just another reason (if I need any) to grab my three rugrats and squeeze them all a little tighter tonight. Even though you may not remember him Savannah, he still watches YOU everyday.

  9. 26Limabeans says:

    That was a tough read.

  10. The Other Whitey says:

    If I weren’t at work right now, I’d be hugging my kids.

    A few weeks back, my oldest daughter (age 6) declared that I’m the “best daddy in the whole world.” I had to leave the room, because I didn’t want her to see the tears welling up, because the truth is that I’m definitely not. Not even close. I’m gone way too much, I don’t make nearly enough time for her, her brother, or her sisters, and I struggle to find the right way to handle discipline and reward. When I went back into the room, she said it again, and all I could say to her was, “I’m trying, sweetie!”

    I have a beautiful (physically and otherwise) wife and four incredible children (#4 due in May). God has blessed me far more than I deserve. There’s a lot about me that I pray my kids never find out. And I often wonder how they would remember me if I were to meet my demise today. Sometimes, when thinking about those things I pray they never find out, I wonder if they would be better off not remembering me at all. For that reason, I try every day to be worthy of them. I hope that someday I can be even 1/100 the man my little girl thinks I am.

  11. Thunderstixx says:

    Kids don’t come with instruction manuals.
    There are millions of words said and written on the subject of raising kids, but experience is the only real teacher.
    I have 3 beautiful daughters and 2 handsome Grandsons and I am continually amazed at how blessed I am to have such great things in my life.
    Somehow, they all managed to live, prosper and become the wonderful people they are in spite of my personal misgivings.
    I don’t think that any parent ever gets a bigger reward than a child of theirs telling them that they love you.
    Very sad tale, gotta use paper towels to dry these things….
    What a wonderful testament to the character of her Father, her family and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 776.
    God Bless all of them and Godspeed to her father.