Updated May 26, 2007 at midnight
Paula Salky's video on memorializing her brother, Robert Secher, who died Oct. 8, 2006 in Iraq.
Steamboat Springs Paula Salky knew it wouldn't be a "happy present." But for her stepfather's 83rd birthday, she decided to make a four-minute film featuring photos of her brother, who died last October in Iraq.
"This is a hard time for my family because it's Memorial Day, and it's close to both my brother and my stepfather's birthdays," she said.
Salky's brother, Robert Secher, died Oct. 8, 2006, in Iraq's Al Anbar province. He was 32.
The video, which is accompanied by the Cat Power song "The Greatest" and includes a brief introduction by Salky, was meant to be an intimate, private gift for her stepfather, Dr. Pierre Secher, a professor emeritus for the University of Memphis.
However, the video has gone national, as it was posted to YouTube, a popular online video sharing site, and has had nearly 600 hits since it was posted earlier this week. Salky posted the video after realizing it was the easiest way to spread her message among her family, friends and the community.
"(The video) came from my heart, from my gut. : It was unscripted," Salky said. "I never dreamed so many people would be watching it. That makes me feel like my message was somehow validated."
Salky, a severe needs aide at Strawberry Park Elementary School, said the video is just another reminder for people to recognize the true meaning of what Memorial Day commemorates.
"What's going on now is people are so far removed from the war in Iraq," she said. "We're more worried about Paris Hilton going to jail or who's the father to Anna Nicole (Smith's) baby. We need to honor the men and women who have died for the freedoms we enjoy. It's the home of the free because of the brave."
Salky said Memorial Day can be a time for families to camp or shop, but that it also should be a time for reflection.
"We can honor these people by enjoying whatever we had planned for these three days but take a moment to think about how fortunate we are to have our freedoms," she said. "It's a good lesson to teach our children."
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