The situation with the “Wall of Honor” has been resolved! It turns out that the advisor from the veteran’s association gave poor advice to the school district. This advisor’s brother is on the wall and because he received a Purple Heart, he wanted all heroes on the wall to be Purple Heart recipients. He told the school district that you are not considered KIA unless you have a Purple Heart which is clearly not true. My casualty assistance officer called the school district and cleared this up quickly! Here is the wonderful response we got…
Ms. Katzenbach and Mr. Wykstra,
My deepest apologies for the misunderstanding regarding the criteria surrounding the memorial plaque. It was never anyone’s intent to cause any additional pain for you, your families, or friends. I have the highest regard for those who serve our country, as my father also served in Korea, and I have always admired those that have sacrificed for all of us.
I hope this email will help resolve this issue. First there are two different groups involved with two different memorials. The City of Thornton Memorial which I believe you are aware and is located outside of the Veteran’s Memorial Aquatic Center (VMAC) and is operated by the City of Thornton with assistance from the Thornton Veteran’s Memorial Association. The other is the Fallen Heroes Wall inside the VMAC and is operated by the School District. I understand that Mr. Branaugh was adamant about the criteria of the purple heart however, the district believes that the designations of KIA and MIA should be the criteria for being honored on the Fallen Heroes Wall. We will reach out to Mr. Branaugh and the TMVA so that we are on the same page in the future in regard to the Fallen Heroes Wall.
The issue of whether Jake Wykstra will be honored on the Fallen Heroes wall has been confirmed. I spoke with Casualty Officer Sgt. 1st Class Chad DeLouis today. He has confirmed Jake as being KIA. So the district will be honoring Jake with a plaque on the Fallen Heroes Wall within the VMAC. While we do not have a ceremony for the placement of the plaque, we will inform you of when the plaque is placed on the wall. If you would want to have a ceremony to honor Jake the district would be happy to work with you to accommodate an event.
If you have any questions on any of the above information please do not hesitate to call me at my office number below.
Also my understanding is that the Thornton Veteran’s Memorial Association has procured a brick in honor of Jake to be placed in the Thornton Veterans Memorial. It is also my understanding that the city provides the service to have the bricks placed on their memorial. Similarly the do not host ceremonies for the individuals honored there. Since this memorial is managed by the City I would refer you to them for any additional information about their procedures for the memorial.
Once again please accept my apologies for the misunderstandings. My hope is that the plaque in honor of your son Jake will provide the respect he most certainly deserves for his ultimate sacrifice to our country!
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Thank you! Rob Webber
Jake, There’s a part of me that came back to life during this struggle, and it might sound crazy to some, but I was given the opportunity to advocate for you once again. This is something that parents do, and although it can be a frustrating situation each time, it is a part of parenting. I’ve lost my role as your mom, but this battle gave me the opportunity again if for just a short time. I miss being your mom so much, Jake. I miss helping you as you grow and develop and move through various stages of your life. It was so unfairly brought to an abrupt halt the day you died and I have yet to recover. I fear that I will never recover. But try, I must, so I will continue to fill the hole in my life with service to others in your honor. I will try my best to make you proud of me in this war that I fight daily. I know you are close to our Father in Heaven, so I too will try my best to be close to Him as well. You inspire me to be a better person because of your goodness. You have always been a shining light to everyone who knew you, and for many you remain their inspiration. This is true for me. You are beautiful and I cannot wait until the day when I will see you again. Until then, please know what you mean to me, please stay close to me and please keep lifting others with your smile and good nature.
I love you so much, Jake