WYOMING, Mich. – An American flag waved in the breeze near the tall blue spruce in the front yard of the Burri family. The tree was planted as a little sapling by their fallen hero long before his days in combat.
John Burri said he watched this tree grow alongside his sons. Today, it symbolizes the lost life of one of those sons.
“Ever since he passed, our son Andrew always said, ‘This is Eric’s tree dad, I know it is,’” said Burri. And now, every time he looks into his yard, he thinks of his son Eric.
Holding a banner of his son showing his bright blue eyes, Burri said Eric would have turned 31 years old this Thanksgiving.
Burri said Eric came home from high school one day excited to say he enlisted. Eric was adventurous and worked to help others.
“He was just a good kid,” said Burri. “He loved people. He wanted to do something like I said to help make a difference. He joined because of 9/11. So we miss him.”
While serving in Iraq on June 7, 2005, Army Specialist and Parachute Rigger Eric Todd Burri was killed in an IED explosion.
Now Burri hopes to find an organization who will decorate his tree in honor of fallen heroes.
“I’m pretty proud of that tree: I used to decorate it when it was smaller, but I have no means to get up there now, and how many lights it would take,” said Burri. “I just got to thinking about it, some day it would be nice to see that lit up, just to honor our troops.”
John pictures red, white, and blue lights gleaming on special occasions like Eric’s birthday Nov. 27, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and the fourth of July. Until then, Burri said he knows Eric is with him.
“I’d just want to wish everybody a very merry Christmas, and be sure to take time to thank a Veteran, and thank our soldiers who you see coming and going,” said Burri. “Don’t forget them. Never, never forget.”
If you know an organization that would decorate the Burri’s family tree with lights, or if you would like to help, contact John Burri directly at (616) 643-3680.