BALTIMORE — "People say have a happy Memorial Day. Mine is usually reflective," said Stephanie Welch. On this day, she remembers her husband, Windburn Drew Harrington. He was killed in a training exercise in Honduras in the 80s while he was serving as a Ranger in the 75th Infantry.
Welch explained how every year that goes by is different, sometimes it's harder than others. "Then his birthday is June 1st so it's pow pow pow, Drew week!"
Welch met Harrington at West Point Military Academy. She was on the track team. He played football and was a brigade boxing champ. Welch described Harrington as a fine bow-legged boy! When she first met him, she asked him his name. She explained their interaction at that point.
"He said his name was Windburn. I said Windburn? He said Windburn. I said Windburn like sunburn? He said Windburn. And out of my mouth said well we're not gonna name our son that!"
Sure enough, a few years later after they got married, they had a son. They named him Kirkland. He was only three months old when Harrington was killed, but Welch made sure he was never forgotten, especially after remarrying and having two other children.
"Kirk has a father and a dad and his dad raised him to be a good man. You know? And his dad is the man who made sure not to forget your father," said Welch. She explained how Kirk grew up going to his father's grave with his dad and the rest of the family.
They've all moved to different places but always keep Harrington in their thoughts.
Welch moved to Baltimore City just three years ago to be a math teacher through the Baltimore City teacher residency program. Pushed by her daughter to take the leap.
"She said, you are a teacher and you’ve been a teacher all my life. So you’ve got three years to become a teacher."
And now she dedicates her life to helping her students.
"Math is a tool that gets us to critically think. My goal is to make sure my students are accountable, responsible and make a contribution to society," said Welch.
She added, "the point is to make a positive contribution and you have to do that by being able to think. So math is that tool where we annotate. We use pictures. We use things that we know. We use the things we know to create a thought process. I want my babies to know how to think."
She is truly invested in the success of each of her students. Some of them even call her grandma.
"We have a rule. I can be grandma in the hallways but when you step across this threshold, I’m Miss Grape and I am your math teacher and I expect the same excellence the same requirements of you that I do everybody else," said Welch.
School is closed for the Memorial Day holiday and many people are enjoying the time of-f, but Welch just hopes everyone takes a moment to remember what this day is truly about.
"Memorial Day is for those who gave their all and I think sometimes we forget that it’s not just the person who died but their family. I gave a husband and a father. My son gave a dad," said Welch.
She added, "people gave their life so you can have this freedom. Maybe a moment of silence? I don’t know. It doesn’t have to be grave. Or constructed. It can be organic. Or you cannot! That’s the freedom. That freedom you have is part of the reason I have a flag. And I’m good with that. That’s enough. The fact that you don’t have to celebrate is because there are men and women who chose to serve."