May 28, 2012 7:51 PM by Matt Stafford

Remembering their lost loved ones on Memorial Day

"Dear Lord, please help me get through this; it's tough being by myself and it's tough being alone," says Erica Thompson, sitting at a grave in Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.

Thompson lost her husband, Air Force Staff Sergeant Preston Thompson, about two years ago. On Memorial Day she thinks of him, but the grave she's sitting at isn't her husband's.

"What I like to do sometimes when I miss him a lot is I'll just find a grave, and you just pray to his family and hope that they find peace and then pray for peace for my family," Thompson tells News 5. Her husband is memorialized in California, and she lives in Colorado with their son, Vaun; they couldn't be there this Memorial Day.

Instead, they share their family's love with someone they've never met.

There's a lot of that going on for Memorial Day. Pikes Peak area veterans group got together to share love with friends as well; for people who they fought alongside, and people who fought for them. It was a packed house, as it usually is, at the Retired Enlisted Association for the Memorial Day service in Colorado Springs.

Michael Mankowski's stepfather fought and died for him in Vietnam. He visited his stepfather's grave in Colorado Springs to decorate it with flowers.

"This is a great country, and to have the freedoms we have, we have to thank these guys for that," says Mankowski, stepson of Spc. Ted Mankowski.

Also, thanking military families; like Erica and Vaun.

"My son definitely is him (Preston); he'll jump off of any rock, no matter how high it is," says Erica.

She's teaching him about others, like his daddy, who risked and sacrificed the same.

"He served in Vietnam, and he served in Korea," Erica tells Vaun while they set next to the grave of Army 1st Sgt. William Morgan who served in Korea and Vietnam. "He was a purple heart, and that means he did some great things in the Army."

Vaun was about a year old when his dad died, and he might not remember much from today, but Erica's going to make he sure he knows what Memorial Day is all about.

"Ultimately, no matter what choice brought you into the military, this can be your outcome, and we want to say thank you," says Erica. So she prays with her son, hoping the message gets through.

"Tell him, say hey, 'I'm going to say a prayer for your family,'" Erica asks Vaun to do at 1st Sgt. Morgan's grave. "And then I'm going to say a prayer for my family."



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