Local Gold Star family's first Memorial Day without their son

FORT MILL, SC (WBTV) - When Army Specialist Javion Sullivan decided to join the Army, his mother says she knew there was a possibility he may never come back.

The possibility became reality in January when the 24-year-old husband and father died while serving in Iraq.

"That knock on the door that we all dread," Cynthia Sullivan said. "We seen it on TV but to feel that in real life – there's no words for it but God has given me strength. Every day I get stronger."

Memorial Day 2018 is the family's first as a Gold Star family.

"I think just reliving – actually saying it again that my husband is not here. We're doing this in remembrance of him, listening to the taps and knowing what it means. Coming from a military family, its tough," said Specialist Sullivan's wife, Raven.

His father, Willis, said "we always gave thanks to our fallen soldiers but nothing like this because I'm a part of it now."

Javion Sullivan grew up in Fort Mill and the town honored him during their Memorial Day Remembrance.

"It's been a wonderful day. It's been a very bittersweet moment, moments. It's been a whole weekend of joy, tears but a proud mother – a very proud mother," Mrs. Sullivan said. "My heart is heavy because my son no longer walks the earth but he's in my heart and the sweetness of it is that the city, the town that he grew up in, finished school in, they honored him today and it was such a wonderful feeling to know that his life was not given in vain. He did what he loved. He stepped up to the charge to this calling and they honored him today for the sacrifice and that the bitter sweetness of it all."

"It's kind of bittersweet. I get to help on another day, a more significant day, everyone realize how important my husband was. How great he was, the legacy he left behind as well as all the other soldiers. It's a little bit different because now I'm doing it as a military spouse instead of a family member of a fallen soldier," Raven Sullivan said.

"We felt a lot of pride to know that the community has come out to honor our son and gave thanks for his service in the military and it was.. it was really special, really special," Willis Sullivan said.

The family received a proclamation, and at a later date, an engraved brick with Javion Sullivan's name will be place at the Fort Mill Veterans Park.

"Oh my goodness – that stone is going to be forever a part of my daily life. I can come down here and I can see his name embedded with all the other comrades that have fallen, that have lost their lives," Cynthia Sullivan said. "It just makes my heart skip a beat. You know it's a proud moment. The proclamation that was given. It's just a proud moment. I'm a proud mother today. Heart is heavy but a proud mother. We're a proud family."

But Willis Sullivan says he doesn't need to see the brick.

"No. No I don't. Because he's a hero. Always been my hero even though he is my son and he's very special. He's always special,"  Mr. Sullivan said.

"Knowing him and knowing him since we were in the 6th grade he never thought he made a tremendous impact on anything - if he could see, if he could be here to know that there are engraving bricks and placing them for him – he would flip lid" said Raven Sullivan.

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