WINFIELD – As people across the nation and Chicago take time to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while in service, WGN News Now is bringing you the stories of local fallen heroes.
One of them is Illinois Army National Guard Sergeant Kevin Grieco of Bartlett.
WGN’s Christine Flores recently sat down with his parents, Ralph and Linda Grieco, to learn more about Kevin and what Memorial Day means to them.
“It’s a solemn time for us because we reflect upon the loss of our son and all of those who have those who have been lost through many different wars, particularly the war on terror,” said Ralph Grieco. “Maybe in the past, in our younger days we’d look forward to the start of the Summer and we recognize that it’s the unofficial start of summer and barbecues and family get-togethers, and we enjoy that too, but it has a deeper meaning for us.”
Since their son had been very patriotic from a young age, the Grieco’s are involved in a number of Memorial Day ceremonies to recognize those who sacrificed for the freedoms of this country.
“He was was a cub scout, a boy scout, became an eagle scout at age 15. Very devoted to his country, to the flag, and always wanted to do something to serve however he could.” said Linda Grieco.”He did a lot for his country and he loved everything about… he was in the Navy first and then he transferred over to the National Guard because he didn’t think he was doing enough for his country.”
Sgt. Grieco was 35 years old when he was killed in Baghlan, Afghanistan after a suicide bomber detonated explosives as he entered a building in October 2008.
Assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery based in Sycamore, Sgt. Grieco was killed at the age of 35 in Baghlan, Afghanistan after a suicide bomber detonated explosives as he entered a building in October 2008.
His children, Joshua and Angeli, were just four and two years old when he died, so they have only fleeting memories of their dad. “I think they miss him more today than maybe they realize when they were younger.” said Ralph. “…because they realize how much they’re missing out on having a dad in their life to help them go from adolescent to young adulthood and how his presence would have made such a difference in their growing up.”
Both of Grieco’s children will be visiting his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery this Memorial Day Weekend, traveling as part of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s “Snowball Express.” As they do that, Ralph and Linda will be attending Memorial Day ceremonies in Chicago and Dupage County this weekend.
The Grieco’s said they don’t begrudge the barbeques or family gatherings that occur this weekend, but do hope people remember the true meaning of the holiday.
“I just would ask people to take a moment to remember there were a lot of people that have died for all the freedoms we have. And we live in the greatest country on Earth …and we have our freedoms and our blessings because so many people, young men, young women answered the call to protect our country,” said Linda.
“Freedom is not free. It comes with a cost,” said Ralph. “And we should all be grateful for the sacrifices of the men and women in our past, through all the past wars who keep our country free and enable us to enjoy the times that we do have.”
You can watch more of their interview in the video above.