ROCHESTER, Minn. - As we reflect this week on the 20th anniversary of September 11th, we remember the many service members who selflessly signed up to protect the nation in the days, months, and years following the terror attacks.
"I want to keep his memory alive. We have pictures of him in our house to talk to our kids about him. They know who he was and what happened and we do talk about it because it's definitely something we don't want to not be remembered," explained Danielle Larson, a cousin of the late Army Sgt. Brent Koch.
Gone much too soon, Koch was just 22-years-old and three months into his tour in Iraq when he was killed in a roadside bombing.
"Anytime you lose somebody in life it's always very emotional, very hard whether it's tragically or life prepares you for it, it's always hard," explained Larson.
Time continues to march on but Larson says it doesn't necessarily get easier. She said there are reminders of that fateful day and it was a wound reopened in August as another 13 U.S. families would lay their loved service member to rest following an attack at the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan.
"Just seeing the pictures of the families you remember when Brent came home. You remember seeing him come off the tarmac and driving home and people lining the streets. It touches people's lives in ways you can't even imagine. All those feelings always come back when you see those kinds of stuff - it is real, it doesn't go away, just reignites for sure," said Larson.
Koch's memory will always live on thanks to friends and family.
"What people do in our military world is completely unexplainable. The sacrifices that they make are ones that I don't know a lot of us - would be hard to say a lot of us could go into those situations confidentially. We have a lot of friends and family that are military and have been through a lot just having that respect for them and being so grateful that people are willing to stand up for our country and defend us for our freedoms," said Larson.
Since 2008, a motorcycle memorial ride has honored late Army Sgt. Brent Koch, among other servicemen and women.
May their service and sacrifice never be forgotten.