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June 18, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, June 18, 2004

Fallen soldier honored Fallen soldier honored (June 18, 2004)

Over 500 attend memorial service for Lt. Ken Ballard

By Corey Pride

Army Lt. Ken Ballard was loved by many people who lived in and out of Mountain View.

More than 500 family members, friends and well-wishers said goodbye to Ballard at his memorial service at the Mountain View Sports Pavilion June 9. He was remembered as a soldier, prankster and friend. But two people remembered him in another way --as their son.

In an interview after the service, Ken Ballard's father, Tom Ballard, said he can still remember a fishing trip he took with his son when he was small.

"He caught the fish," Ballard said. "When you have kids and they do something you can't do, they are so happy. He was smiling from ear-to-ear. He didn't know that my joy was just seeing him smile."

Ken Ballard, a 26-year-old Mountain View resident, died May 30 in the An Najaf area of Iraq after being hit by small-arms fire.

Ballard's mother, Karen Meredith, e-mailed her son constantly while he was in Iraq. She finally decided to put together a Web site (www.mindspring.com/~karenmeredith) with pictures he'd sent her of himself and fellow soldiers overseas. The site has received more than 1,000 hits since Ballard's death. "Not bad for a site originally set up to amuse Ken," Meredith said about the Web site traffic.

Meredith said her son's memorial was almost perfect.

"The only thing missing was Ken," she said.

A procession of friends and family spoke at Ballard's memorial and the Army presented his parents with the purple heart and bronze star he earned for service to his country. Soldiers also fired three shots and played a bugle tribute to Ballard.

Meredith said she was glad her son's father spoke at the memorial because she didn't think she would have been strong enough emotionally to give a speech.

As Tom Ballard spoke of his son, he read a poem entitled "And God Said."

The poem partially read: "I said, 'God, I cry a lot.' God said 'That's why I gave you tears.' I said, 'God, life is so hard.' God said, 'That's why I gave you loved ones.' I said, 'God, my loved one died.' God said, 'Mine was nailed to a cross.' I said 'God, but you still have your loved one.' God said, 'So do you. My loved one is on my right and yours is in your heart."


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