BAY CITY, MI -- Chris Cathcart says the 14th of every month is now noted as "Michael Day," in honor of her nephew, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Cathcart, who was killed Nov. 14, 2014, while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
Those closest to the Bay City native have found different ways of remembering and honoring the fallen soldier -- some simple, some more complex.
On Tuesday, April 14 -- the five-month anniversary of Cathcart's death -- an American flag was hoisted high in Cathcart's honor thanks to his aunt and a little help from the Bay City Department of Public Safety.
Bay City firefighters deployed an aerial truck and repaired a flagpole in front of York Repair, 611 Andre St, where Chris Cathcart works as a controller.
"I was thinking in the morning, 'What am I going to do?' " Chris Cathcart said. Then she remembered the flagpole in front of York Repair, without a flag after recent high winds broke its line. She called up Bay City Public Safety Department and firefighters were happy to help.
"They said, 'We'll be over there at 3 p.m. -- no problem,' " Chris Cathcart said.
Bay City Assistant Fire Chief Richard Kozuch said the call was relatively routine, but a little more meaningful given the circumstances.
"We had participated in his funeral ... so it was kinda special," he said. "The guy gave his life."
A 2001 graduate of Bay City Central High School, Cathcart joined the U.S. Army that same year, later serving with the 101st Airborne Division for five years and touring Iraq. In 2007, he volunteered for Special Forces and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group.
He was 31 when he died.
The new flag is the latest in a long line of honors the Bay County community has heaped on Michael Cathcart in the wake of his death. The community lined the streets of Bay City to welcome the soldier's remains home on Nov. 24, and repeated the gesture following his funeral on Nov. 26. -- the same day Gov. Rick Snyder ordered flags lowered to half-staff to honor Cathcart.
Cathcart was also recognized at the 13th annual Project Blue Light ceremony in Bay City and he was honored by the Carolina Hurricanes National Hockey League franchise, with which he practiced and skated in February 2014. On Jan. 18, Cathcart and his family were honored on-ice at a Red Wings Game in Detroit.
Most recently, Cathcart was mentioned by name in Snyder's State of the State address in January when the governor asked attendees to honor the Bay City soldier and others like him with a moment of silence.
Chris Cathcart said there are still plans by family and friends to honor her nephew in the future. Besides local officials' plans to inscribe Michael Cathcart's name on the Bay County war memorial on Center Avenue in downtown Bay City, she said others are working to possibly rename a Bay City park after the soldier.
Some who knew Michael Cathcart best have smaller, more personal ways to remember. Chris Cathcart said her nephew's fiancée Heather Oliver drank an IPA --- Michael's favorite beer -- and watched a little "Jurassic Park" -- one of the couple's favorite movies -- on Tuesday.
The flag, she said, is another reminder of his service and life.
"He (served) so we all could have a life, and I think of all the other people over there, and I hope that this doesn't happen to them, because it's hard," she said
Written By Sam Easter from mLive.com