Memorial Day has new meaning for family of Whitewright soldier k - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Memorial Day has new meaning for family of Whitewright soldier killed in action

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WHITEWRIGHT -- Wednesday will mark one month since Private First Class Christian Chandler was killed in Afghanistan.

On Monday, Memorial Day, one military family left flowers and an American flag at his grave site in his hometown of Whitewright.

"We know what she went through and we pray for her and Pfc. Chandler," Vietnam Veteran Dan Landis said.

Chandler's mother Rhonda Chandler Beazley has portraits of her son and his personal effects displayed throughout her home.

She's also received stacks of condolence letters from across the country and says faith, family and friends have helped her get through the past four weeks.

"Every day, I try to find something to smile about," she said.

Giving her good reason to laugh are countless photos and stories shared on social media by those who knew Chandler. One, for example, shows his platoon in Afghanistan in front of a munitions room now unofficially called the Christian Chandler Gym because he was so strong and could carry so much of it.

Beazley says she was told Chandler was on foot patrol when he came under small arms fire in Afghanistan. Another soldier walking alongside Chandler who was shot in the legs is still recovering. Beazley also says she was told U.S. soldiers killed the men who fired on them.

"They did say, 'We got 'em,'" Beazley said.

This is the second holiday Beazley has had to go through without her son. Mother's Day was the day after Chandler's funeral.

"I had no idea when I gave birth to this 4 pound 4 ounce baby boy that he would end up being a national hero and I'm so grateful for everything that he had the conviction to do," Beazley said.

Now, she and her family are experiencing firsthand the meaning of Memorial Day, overwhelmed by support and gratitude that doesn't end with death.

"I hope that they feel a sense of gratitude," Beazley said. "Not just as a nation, but personally because every liberty that we have was won from the blood of others."

Beazley will travel to Fort Drum, New York on Wednesday for a memorial ceremony. Fort Drum is where Chandler was based before he deployed to Afghanistan in October.