FAIRFIELD, Ohio (FOX19) - John and Carol Prazynski usually go to Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day. This year they couldn’t, so they spent the afternoon with other Gold Star families at Gate Of Heaven Cemetery in Fairfield.
The Prazynskis lost their son, Taylor, in Iraq in 2005.
John, a veteran himself, remembers dropping Taylor off for bootcamp in October 2003.
“I told him I was proud of him and that he was my hero and that I loved him,” John recalled. “I really had no idea what I was saying.”
Taylor made the decision to join the military when he was a junior in high school, not long after September 11, his father says.
“He was a fun kid,” John explained. “He was always upbeat, smiling cheerfully. He always wanted to help somebody.”
Taylor called home as often as he could, John says.
"One of the conversations he said to me, ‘Dad, I am were I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing.’ And as a parent of a teenager who thinks that, you wonder what they are going to ever become or what they would amount to.
"I couldn’t be more proud.”
On May 9, Taylor died. Within six hours, his parents received the news.
Taylor was 20 years old when he passed, a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corp.
John says Memorial Day has had a different meaning ever since. He also says there isn’t a day that goes by he doesn’t think about this son, who would now be 35.
“When you’re no longer making memories, you can''t help but wonder, who would he be married to? Would he have children? What would his career path have been?” John mused.
Today a portion of State Route 4 is dedicated to Taylor Prazynski.
A field at Joe Nuxhall Miracle League in Fairfield is also dedicated him. Taylor’s name is on the scoreboard, and his photo graces centerfield, both reminders of the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country.
Meanwhile, his memory and his legacy live on in the hearts and minds of those who honor fallen veterans every Memorial Day.
“I truly believe love wins,” John said. “And our community has demonstrated love to us, and I will be forever thankful.”