Iron Soldiers remember the fallen with Independence Day ceremony - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Iron Soldiers remember the fallen with Independence Day ceremony

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Friday a group of veterans held a ceremony at the Capitol to honor fallen soldiers from Texas.

"His family's still here and we're going to make sure no one forgets him," said Hope Billings who last saw her son alive when he was leaving for Afghanistan. Army Sgt. Robert Billings died in October of 2012 when his vehicle hit an IED.

"You still don't want to make it real," said Hope.

Hope's pride for what her son did is hard to miss.

"We don't have wars here like they do overseas because of what our guys do over there. They stop it from coming here," said Hope.

When the Iron Soldiers held a ceremony for Robert, Hope held her head high.

"They want everybody to know that these kids died for a reason," Hope said.

The Iron Soldiers are a group who travel around Texas to honor families of the fallen. Friday, they recognized nine soldiers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan. Iron Soldiers started in 2007 after one of the founders attended his friend's funeral.

"At times it hurts, but it's a comforting hurt to know that they are not forgotten. That the wars might be over for them, but their memory lives on," said Matt Ricks, secretary for the Iron Soldiers.

Watching each family say goodbye Friday was enough to bring tears to the eyes of even an Iron Soldier.

"If I could stand in front of one of them soldiers today I would trade his place because I've looked in his mother's eyes or his father's eyes or I've held his child," said Ricks.

Friday was a tough day for Hope because of what the Fourth of July stands for.

"I think everyone should stop and pause on every military holiday," said Hope.

"People forget what those fireworks represent," said Ricks. "The cost of freedom is blood, sweat and tears," he added.

"This is the reason they get to celebrate the Fourth of July," said Hope.

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