MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This Memorial Day, the nation is taking time to honor those who’ve lost their lives for our country. No one knows that pain more than the families of those fallen military members.
For the Frokjer family of Maplewood, Memorial Day used to be a day of barbeques and celebrating summer. Now, it’s a day to remember the life of 27-year-old Sgt. Chad Frokjer, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan.
At Brian and Arlene Frokjer’s Maplewood home, an Honor and Remember flag flutters high above the ground.
“It’s important to us,” said Chad’s mother, Arlene Frokjer.
It’s a flag that carries incredible meaning for this military family. The pride of raising this banner is also a reminder of the cost to their family.
“We are still very proud of our son. Today, now all we can do is honor him,” said Brian Frokjer, Chad’s father.
Chad served his country through three tours of duty that took him to Iraq and Afghanistan. His family says he was a skilled marine, with a bright military future that came to a sudden end in 2011 by an improvised explosive device.
“He died doing what he loved,” Arlene said.
The cost of war changed this family’s Memorial Day perspective as only loss can.
“It’s just something that when a parent has to bury their child, that it’s something that its totally changes your life,” Brian said.
For Chad’s loved ones, a visit to his final resting place is now more than a holiday tradition, it’s a daily destination.
“I think Memorial Day is every day for us. It’s not just today,” said Nikki Frokjer, Chad’s sister.
Chad always wanted to be near his family, asking that he be buried two miles from his childhood home rather than near his comrades at Arlington National Cemetery or Fort Snelling
“He didn’t want to be where people didn’t go. He wanted to be close to home,” said Arlene.
As we talk of sacrifice on this sacred holiday, the Frokjer family reminds us it is sacrifice not just of our military members, but also their families.
“If anything, the hole in your heart gets bigger and bigger. Life goes on and he’s not here,” Nikki said.
There’s a push to make the Honor and Remembrance flag the official state banner for families who’ve lost loved ones in combat.
Memorial Day is more than just honoring Chad and the Frokjer family sees it as a day to also honor law enforcement who died in the line of duty.
Arlene is the sister of Sgt. Gerald Vick, the St. Paul police officer gunned down in 2005 while on the job.