Denis Kavanagh listened to the speeches and paid his respects to veterans before kneeling at one of the newly-installed pavers at the Pittsburg State Veterans Memorial Amphitheater on Friday.
It's his first Veterans Day without his son, Major Brian Kavanagh, a U.S. Army veteran and PSU alum.
"It's pretty raw right now. He was such a good person," Kavanagh said.
Brian Kavanagh served overseas before coming home and serving veterans. He and his wife, Jessica, set up a program to help connect veterans to resources once they return home. Brian was struggling with PTSD himself.
"It's an issue for all family members. His sisters, his mother, his wife, his in-laws, everyone was affected by the condition. And all the people that are dealing with this across the country, it's a family issue," Kavanagh said.
In June, Brian, a father of two girls, passed away unexpectedly in Baltimore. He was out working with some veterans, showing no signs of illness, according to his family. He passed away suddenly from what was determined to be walking pneumonia.
"He was literally going out on the street trying to rescue some of these guys. He tried to help as many of the people as he could," Kavanagh said.
Brian Kavanagh was one of 20 veterans honored with a paver brick in the memorial amphitheater at PSU. It bears his name, and now, thanks to his father, a small American flag. Denis and Brian visited the memorial amphitheater together before he passed away. Denis recalls Brian's love for the quote on the memorial by Abraham Lincoln: "Honor to the Soldier and Sailor everywhere who bravely bares his country's cause."
"He was my hero," Kavanagh said. "A lot of guys say they looked up to their dads but Brian was my hero."
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas