Family of fallen soldier hoping to attend ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery |

Family of fallen soldier hoping to attend ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery

Adam Jensen

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune Patricia Smith of South Lake Tahoe is hoping to attend a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia to honor her son, Army Sgt. Timothy Smith.

Highway 50 unfolds for more than 3,000 miles as it crosses the United States, cutting through South Lake Tahoe and traveling past Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery.

After Arlington, the highway continues on, but the cemetery marks the end of the road for millions of visitors who come to honor the sacrifice of the U.S. armed services and the final resting place for hundreds of thousands of veterans buried there.

Often, it’s friends and families of those lost in war who make the pilgrimage to the nearly 150-year-old cemetery – families like those of South Lake Tahoe’s Patricia Smith.

Smith’s 25-year-old son, Army Sgt. Timothy Smith, was killed by a roadside bomb explosion in Baghdad on April 7.

“You know, we’re just kind of going day-by-day,” said Smith, talking about the slow process of recovering from the death of her oldest son.

Patricia’s younger son, Tommy, and daughter, Jackie, have been irreplaceable during the tough months after Timothy’s death, Smith said.

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“I would not be able to do it without them,” Smith said.

The Smiths hope to join family members who live in the eastern United States during a ceremony honoring Timothy Smith at Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 17.

The family scattered Timothy’s ashes, so the fallen soldier will not be buried at the national cemetery, but Smith will have a plaque at Arlington honoring his sacrifice, Patricia Smith said.

A fundraiser to help pay for the Smiths’ travel expenses to the ceremony will be held next month in Carson City. Travel to the ceremony will not be possible without financial help, Patricia said.

The fundraiser also will benefit the family of Pfc. Alejandro “Alex” Varela.

Varela – a 19-year-old Fernley resident – was killed by an improvised explosive device in Baghdad on May 18, 2007.

The fundraiser arose with the help of representatives from both Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons’ and Congressman Dean Heller’s offices, as well as Carson City woman P.J. Degross.

Degross is the founder of Web of Support, an Internet-based program connecting those willing to send letters and care packages with U.S. service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

But her support extends beyond those who currently are deployed.

“We want to make sure the families are taken care of,” Degross said. “The families are still in the war, we might say.”

For more information on the fundraiser, contact Jan Brase at (775) 636-4452 or Degross at (775) 887-1767.