May 28, 2012 11:27 PM by Maddie Garrett
As Acadiana paid tribute this Memorial Day, Sybil and Buddy Williamson opened up to the painful emotions of losing their oldest son.
"The day means very much to us, it's so special especially since it's so very personal now," said Sybil.
Army Sgt. Patrick Williamson was only 24 years old when he died in Afghanistan in 2009. He was serving in the infantry in an area experiencing heavy fighting at the time, and a road side bomb directly hit the small tank he was driving.
"When we found out, soldiers came one evening," recalled Sybil. "It was just, didn't seem real, it seemed like a dream."
Patrick received high honors posthumously, the Bronze Star and Purple Heart among many others for his bravery in combat.
"He was deserved of them, he was a very brave, very proud soldier," said Buddy. "He was known in his unit as one of the guys who were the leaders."
The Williamsons not only fly an American Flag in front of their house, but a second, white flag that reads "Honor and Remember" with a large gold star in the center, Patrick's name and the date he died. The Williamsons say the flag was given to them as a special way to honor Gold Star families, or those who lost an immediate family member in combat.
"We don't want anyone to ever forget him. We love him and always will, so (we) just to make sure his sacrifice for his country is remembered always," said Sybil.
The Gold Star is something the Williamsons wish they never received, but say they find pride and honor in their son's sacrifice.
"We're very very proud of our son and doing what he believed in," explained Sybil. Buddy added, "Freedom is not free, and it sounds like a trite phrase, but it's real for us."