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Memorial Day event honors children lost to violence

Posted at 1:59 PM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-28 20:34:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Every Memorial Day, we’re used to seeing flags planted at grave sites to remember fallen heroes.

At Brooking Cemetery this year, there was a different kind of marker: orange ribbons to honor young people lost to violence.

They were placed there by a new group called Sooner Than Later. It was created by Andrew Meyers, whose 16-year-old son was shot and killed in 2015.

"It was too late for my son, so I want to be there sooner and find something more productive for the community, be more involved with the community," he explained.

Although volunteers placed orange ribbons on the graves of all young people on Monday, Sooner Than Later's emphasis is on ending the violence that has claimed so many lives in the metro.

The group also aims to support grieving parents who have lost children. Felix Martinez is one of them. 

"It's helping me cope with the loss of my child, maybe helping another child," he said. 

As Martinez planted ribbons, he thought of his 13-year-old son Christopher, who killed himself two weeks ago. He said Memorial Day is a fitting date to remember his son.

"It's an epidemic with these kids. You know streets and schools are more dangerous than Afghanistan or any war we're fighting," Martinez explained.

The orange ribbons are just the first step for Andrew Meyers. He hopes by sharing his story, "sooner than later," things will change.

"I know I can take my past and my experience and be able to help this next child because I know what they going through, what they're feeling. I know what the parent's going through waking up every day and not being able to talk to their child," he said. 

Eventually, Meyers hopes to start a group home for teens. He wants to help young people make the right choices and stay out of trouble. 

You can learn more about Sooner Than Later here