We often hear the phrase: "Freedom is not free." Military personnel put their lives on the line daily for the rights we often take for granted. But soldiers aren't the only ones who sacrifice. Mothers become childless. Wives are made into widows. Children become fatherless.
At 12 years old, Daniel Murkerson became yet another victim of war. Although it was seven years ago when a sniper shot and killed Daniel's father, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Herman Jerome Murkerson Jr., that day continues to haunt Daniel and his family.
"They went into a mosque to secure it," said Daniel's mother, Wendy Murkerson, recalling the events of Jerome's death.
"When they did, the insurgents had come out the backdoor. They had people pinned in the alley and (Jerome) and another gentleman (were) trying to lay down enough gunfire, so that they could get out. And then he was shot."
That day Jerome saved the lives of four men.
Today, Jerome's son Daniel can be seen around Oak Grove mowing his church's lawn, chopping wood for an elderly woman and saving up to attend UAB for a major in engineering.
"(Jerome was) just like Daniel," Wendy said when asked about Jerome's character in his heroic death. "(Daniel is) always putting others first. He's always sticking up for other people."
At his high school, Oak Grove, Daniel thrives under the stadium lights playing offense, defense and special teams for his father's alma mater.
"(Daniel's father) started coaching Daniel's ball team when he was little," Wendy said. "And when he was deployed I had to take over. So, I think that's what started it all. That's what started with the baseball and the softball. And it went from there."
Even though Daniel's father can't physically cheer for him from the sidelines, Jerome's legacy lives on.
"I just know he's always there with me," Daniel said. "He's always there watching over me and no matter what I do, he's there."
Despite leading his team in touchdowns, Daniel combated adversity head-on as his football team finished the season with only two wins.
"No matter what life throws at you," Daniel said. "You can always get through it. And you can always do good in life."
Something he's been practicing since 2007.
Carry The Load (http://carrytheload.org/) is one of many not-for-profit organizations working to support military members and families. Carry the Load was started by former Navy SEALS, Clint Bruce and Stephen Holley, as a means of honoring friends lost in combat and restore the true meaning of Memorial Day by connecting Americans to the sacrifices of our military, law enforcement, firefighters and rescue personnel. Carry The Load uses funds raised during the Memorial Day campaign to execute to continue it's mission and support the following organizations: Team Red, White and Blue; T*A*P*S ; Snowball Express; and Heroes on the Water.
You can also support Daniel Murkerson as he works to earn his college degree by visiting his donation page here:
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