SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff will give the keynote address at the “Honoring the Fallen…Soldier Tribute Ceremony” Wed., Nov. 9 at 12:20 p.m. on the LDS Business College campus, 95 North 300 West, Salt Lake City.
The event is sponsored by the Daddy Come Home Foundation, founded by Nadia Lawrence who, at the age of 15, wrote and recorded a song in honor of fallen soldiers. She has sponsored fallen soldier ceremonies annually since then from proceeds of the CD’s sales. This year’s ceremony will honor the lives and families of PFC Jordan Byrd, CPL Raphael Rodrigues Arruda, PFC Aaron Thomas Nemelka, and LCPL Nigel Olsen.
A business management student at LDSBC, Nadia’s inspiration for the song sprouted from a conversation she had at age 11 with a friend whose father had been killed in combat. “I felt sympathy for a girl my age whose father wouldn’t be coming home for Christmas,” she said. It took her a couple of years to write her thoughts into a song and record it. “When we finished the song, we wanted to do more for these soldiers—and their families,” she said.
Nadia uses half the proceeds from CD sales to create fallen soldier tributes. Her parents helped her establish the foundation, and her high school peers helped sell CDs. “It was a big service project. We sold them door to door,” she said.
The money pays for plaques for the soldier’s family, and the expenses of the ceremonies which include presentations of the soldiers’ lives, vocal tributes, and speakers. “We celebrate the lives of these soldiers, and honor the sacrifice of them and their families. It’s not only the soldier who makes a sacrifice,” Nadia said.
Nadia works through the Survivor Outreach Services of the National Guard to select soldiers to be honored. “It’s a humbling experience to speak to those families. It’s almost like you’re opening a deep wound,” she said, adding that she’s felt a lot of mercy and miracles as she’s heard their stories. She spoke of Jordan Byrd, an army medic who put himself between the enemy and his patient. The patient survived the gunfire; Byrd did not. “When you read their stories, they’re all heroes. That’s what we focus on. We want to express our gratitude, and celebrate their lives and the heroes they’ve become,” she said.
Nadia chose Shurtleff because, “He’s such a supporter of families in Utah,” she said. “That’s a huge focus of this ceremony—to support these families and the children left behind. We told him our cause and he said he would be happy to be our keynote speaker,” she said.
Nadia’s personal plan is to finish her degree at LDS Business College, then attend BYU’s major music major program. But for now, she said, “We want to spread the word about this. We’d like to honor more soldiers every year, to make more families feel supported and loved.”
The tribute ceremony begins at 12:20 on the LDSBC campus, multi-purpose room, main floor, 95 North 300 West, Salt Lake City. The public is invited.