Free World - September 15, 2021

Sergeant First Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez is buried in Grave 104B of Section …


Sergeant First Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez is buried in Grave 104B of Section 14A at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. The white marble headstone is shaded by a willowy oak and adorned with a miniature American flag and a fistful of red, white and blue flowers. On Aug. 27, Sylvia and Javier Gutierrez make the 29-mile trip to their son’s grave site, just as they have done dozens of times since his death 18 months earlier. Time and again, they’ve come here carrying photographs and fresh bouquets and family gossip. They’ve also carried a burden inside, one no parent should have to bear: their son was one of the last two American soldiers to die fighting in Afghanistan. Sylvia and Javier sit on the manicured grass and speak softly to their firstborn son. Through tears, they describe the latest news the best they can. They reveal their shared feelings of helplessness. They tell him they love him and miss him. They make sure to remind him they’re proud of his sacrifice. And then they head home. Jaguar’s death has become a defining element of their identity, reports W.J. Hennigan. They have transformed the sunroom at the front of their two-story brick home into a museum of their dead son. “We just try to remember the sacrifice he made,” Javier explains. “You look at what’s happening now in Afghanistan and ask yourself, ‘Was this all worth it?'” He has to believe that it was. Read more at the link in bio. Photographs by @pvanagtmael—@magnumphotos for TIME



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