What a beautiful life.
This woman hugged every soldier deploying from and returning to Fort Hood for years. This week, they came to say goodbye to her:
About 600 active-duty soldiers, veterans, family and friends stopped by Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home on Saturday to pay their respects to Elizabeth Laird, the Fort Hood Hug Lady.
Known to every soldier deploying from or returning to Fort Hood during the War on Terror, Laird left a lasting touch on everyone she hugged.
The viewing for Laird, who died Christmas Eve, was Saturday afternoon. At least 500 people signed the guest book at the funeral home, many of them signing for spouses not counted separately, said Crawford-Bowers Funeral Director Charlene Steptore.
Many visitors had their lives changed for the better by the woman whose mission was to ensure her soldiers going to war knew someone back home loved and cared for them.
“I first met her in 2008 when we were deploying with 41st Fires Brigade. She met us all at the airport when we were fixing to leave,” said retired Staff Sgt. Todd McMahan. “There was this little old lady standing there and giving everybody hugs. I think it was about 5 in the morning, and we were really surprised to see her.”
McMahan said he not only got his first hug, but a little kiss on the cheek — which he promised Laird he would return to her after he got home. After an 18-month deployment, he made good on that promise.
“I walked over to her and said, ‘I don’t know if you remember me or not, but about a year and a half ago you gave me a kiss and I told you I would keep that kiss safe and bring it back to you.’ So I gave her a kiss on the cheek and she just giggled and laughed and was just ecstatic,” he said. “She reminded me of my grandma. She was kind of everyone’s grandma.”
The wife of Texas’ governor came to her funeral and presented the family with the state flag.