Community celebrates birthday of slain Fort Hood soldier

Community celebrates 21st birthday of slain soldier
Community celebrates 21st birthday of slain soldier(Megan Vanselow)
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 7:48 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - People in Central Texas are observing the would be 21st birthday of slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen.

Guillen was allegedly murdered on post by another soldier in April of this year, her remains were found months later near the Leon River in Bell County.

That’s where local community members made their way Wednesday, to add birthday balloons to the growing collection of memorials, candles or flowers.

Meanwhile outside the gates of Fort Hood, people like Amanda Gonzalez started celebrating at midnight from the mural painted of the soldier with song and prayer.

She says she’ll be having cake today for her too.

For Killeen resident, and veteran Tricia Shaw, a September 30 birthday is something she and Vanessa share.

“I was a soldier here too, I got out in August 2004, and its been heartbreaking for me to follow her story,” Shaw said.

“I woke up this morning, saw again that it was her birthday, same as my birthday and all I could think about was how the army failed her and took her 21st birthday from her.”

Also taking place Wednesday in Central Texas and across the country was a virtual run fundraiser to support the #IamVanessaGuillen bill.

Dee Dixon organized the 2 mile run, designed to mimic the required number of miles during part of the army physical training.

“I tried to think, ‘what is the common thing to do as military?’ and that’s running. We’re always running so I said I wanted to host a fundraiser to raise funds for the family,” Dixon said.

She says runners were signed up from Killeen, Houston and across Texas as well as California, Minnesota, North Carolina and Florida.

Wednesday night in Houston, Guillen’s hometown, several events are planned to honor her life including the reading of the Homily at Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home, a dove release, mariachi performances, a speech from Guillen’s mother, a butterfly release and cake.

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