HOWARD - Family members of a fallen soldier say they're honoring him the best way they know how.
That's by dedicating a trail in his hometown of Howard Saturday.
Corporal Justin Ross was gunned down in Afghanistan in 2011.
He served with the 428th Engineering Company as a combat engineer, doing route clearance.
On what would have been Corporal Justin Ross's 25th birthday, his parents, Ron and Debra, along with his military brothers, paid homage to a life cut short. He paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan in 2011.
"You need things to do in order to deal with your grief. And so you do those things, but in the culmination it's joyous, but then your mind goes back to, oh yeah, why were we doing this," said Ron Ross, Cpl. Ross's father.
The Ross family says it kept busy making a trail, connecting several parks in the Village of Howard. They also commissioned a memorial statue in honor of Justin.
"We picked an eagle as a symbol of freedom," said Debra Ross, Cpl. Ross's mother.
"That's very beautiful. That just represents America right there, and that's who Justin was," said Ross's friend, Ret. Spc. Justin Lang.
Lang, a wounded warrior himself, paid solemn tribute with an emotional national anthem.
Ross's father gave a tearful speech.
"I was just so moved. Thank you so much," said Ron Ross.
But before that, the Ross family hosted the "Lead with the Stache Dash" run.
"Our son, when he was deployed to Afghanistan, they pushed the button a little bit and grew mustaches," said Debra Ross.
Lightening up the somber situation with fake mustaches, just like Justin would have wanted.
"He was a goofball. I love Justin though, he was definitely a character," Ret. Spc. Lang said.
His family says this space, Mills Center Park, was a part of what made Justin who he was.
"In the woods, just behind us there, they had paint ball wars, full-fledged. There's just a bit of the spirit of Justin in this place," said Ron Ross.
From war games, to grounds for a war memorial - the Ross family says they're certain their son's spirit will dwell here long after these flags have flown.
The Ross family says it hopes to continue the Stache Dash every year on the Saturday after September 11th.
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