PICKENS—A community in mourning is looking for a way to honor a fallen soldier who was killed in active duty in Afghanistan recently.
Hundreds turned out to celebrate the life of Barrett Austin at a memorial service last week, but several people in the Pickens community are hoping to do a little more for the former Pickens High graduate.
A petition is being circulated online, in the Pickens community and at Pickens High to get the new Pickens football stadium named after the 20-year old.
One petition supporter said the idea came from a few folks trying to think of ways to honor Austin.
“Naming the stadium is not only a memorial to a young man that played on it and died for his country,” Pickens County resident Victoria Holcombe-Strayer said. “This is a place that generations will see who he was and know that no matter where you’re from, you can make a difference. From what I know, Barrett would agree with the second reason.”
Strayer said the group of supporters has received permission to proceed from the Austin family.
“As a military mom of a soldier who served in Afghanistan, a PHS graduate, and a Pickens resident for 46 years, I believe that this young man deserves to be honored for the sacrifice that he made for my freedom to be able to come and watch my children participate in the stadium that would be named after PFC Barrett Austin - a hometown hero,” Patti Barger wrote on the petition page set up at www.Change.org
Others voiced their support on the page.
“He’s our hometown hero he deserves this memorial,” Tiffany Judd wrote.
Pickens High Principal Marion Lawson said Austin certainly leaves a lasting legacy at the high school.
“He was a good student,” Lawson said. “He was always friendly, always ready with a smile and was always very polite and pleasant with his peers and teachers. Barrett was just a good all-around citizen here at Pickens High.”
“As with any student, a loss is tough,” Lawson continued. “When they are in service to our country it is more so because they are where they are because of the sacrifice that they’re willing to make. It does not surprise us that he would be one who would want to serve our country in this way.”
Despite what may or may not happen with the petition, Lawson said it is important for the community to keep the Austin family in their thoughts.
“It does affect everyone and we want to be very careful to remember the Austin family in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.
As of Wednesday, the petition had more than 1,200 supporters.
Those interested can visit this link to sign or receive more information: http://www.change.org/petitions/school-district-of-pickens-county-name-pickens-football-stadium-after-barrett-austin.