Family of Fallen Hero takes in Memorial Day

By Jim Madalinsky

Published 05/26 2014 04:36PM

Updated 05/28 2014 09:40AM

ALTOONA - For a lot of families Memorial Day is a time to be together maybe catch a parade or have a picnic. The Parks family is no different, but their perspective drastically changed nearly seven years ago.
Larry and Cheryl Parks started their Memorial Day like they always do in downtown Altoona watching the parade roll by.
Since 2007 the parade has had a different feel.
“We may have lost our son. It's been seven years, but the people still stand behind you,” Larry Parks Sr. says.
Private First Class Larry Parks Jr. was killed while serving in Iraq June 18th, 2007.
Since that day the Parks family's Memorial Day traditions have changed.
“We'll always remember and we always say this is what this is for today. It's not just a barbeque to hangout. That's what this is for,” Nikki Williams says.
Larry Sr. says every year members of his son's former unit reach out to them.
“They may be 1,000 miles away but they still try to stop by just to say hello,” Parks Sr. says.
And during Altoona's Memorial Day parade, a special stop by the Newburg Fire Department where Larry Jr also volunteered.
“His son died for us to have this and it's great that people stop and shake his hand and say thank you. It makes him feel appreciated and not forgotten. It's like Larry's memory can continue to go on the more people say thank you,” Williams says.
And before the parks head home for their family picnic, there's one last stop to be made, a place Larry and Cheryl say they visit a few times every month.
“When you lose a son it's never ending. Never ending. It doesn't get any better it doesn't get any worse. I'm proud of what everybody does,” Parks Sr. says.

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