LAWRENCEVILLE - Bonnie Lou Schreiner has her son's Purple Heart, and next week she'll receive his Bronze Star.
She clings to every medal, every memory, every honor, since her son, Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Wilson, isn't there for her to cling to in the flesh. Wilson died in Iraq in June.
"My biggest thing is you don't want people to forget," Schreiner said.
So she has traveled more than 2,000 miles from her California home for a ceremony today, where the name of her son and four other soldiers lost this year will be dedicated at the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial.
"That's the least I can do for my son," she said of the journey. "It's nice they recognize these fallen heroes. What a nice way to be remembered."
Wilson used to light up the soccer fields in Duluth.
Another lost soldier, Army Spec. Christopher Gabriel Patton, played football at Central Gwinnett High School and was actively involved in drama. He was killed in action in September while conducting routine patrols outside Baghdad.
Army Sgt. Glenn Joseph Anderson, known in the Lawrenceville community as Joe, was a Boy Scout Master. He died in June of a heart attack while on guard duty at Fort Gordon in Augusta.
Army Pfc. Edgar Enrique Cardenas lived in Lilburn before marrying and moving to Mexico to start a family. He died in Iraq in August of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device.
A native of Colombia, Spec. Cristian Rojas-Gallego graduated from Phoenix High School and was working to become a United States citizen when he died in Baghdad in August. He was a new father to a 10-week-old son at the time of his death.
All five will be honored during a 1:30 p.m. ceremony today at the memorial on Langley Drive in Lawrenceville.
"I have good days and bad days," said Schreiner, who was looking forward to meeting other families today. "You feel like someone has torn your heart out. ... To be around and talk to people, it's good."
She wants others to know and to remember the man who became a Marine and sacrificed his life for his country,
"I'm very proud of my son," she said.
SideBar: If You Go
What: Veterans Day ceremony
When: 1:30 p.m. today
Where: Fallen Heroes Memorial, Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville