COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Diane and Stanley Rawl were at home the day they received the news about their son's death. June 20, 2012 is a day that changed their lives forever.
"It's a grief that no one should have to go through," said Rawl, "But we were so proud that he was willing to stop what he was doing in the middle of his life, leave his children and leave us and go."
First Lieutenant Ryan Rawl was only 30 years old when he was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. He was one of three South Carolina soldiers killed in that attack including John Meador, who lived outside the Irmo town limits, and Matthew Thomas from Easley.
Among being a hero, Ryan wore many hats in life. He was a son, a brother, and a former Richland county deputy. He also worked as a school resource officer after attending the Citadel.
However, his mother says, "He would want to be remembered as a good father."
He left behind two children whom he loved dearly, and every single day his family wakes up to remember his sacrifice.
"I don't want him to be forgotten, he was a hero."
The day Rawl was buried, the Richland County Sheriff's department told the Rawl family they would never forget him and they have kept that promise ever since.
"I was his sheriff's department parent. I was his father, so he was a child of mine too. I know how I feel losing him and I want to make sure that nobody ever forgets him" said Sheriff Lott.
"Ryan was quite impressionable, he stood out in their mind and so we're honored in that way"' said Rawl.
Which is why every year on the July 4th holiday, the community comes together to remember, honor and pay respects to the colorful life Ryan lived.
The Ryan Rawl Memorial event takes place July 4th at the Statehouse at 8 a.m. Registration is $25 per person.
All of the funds raised will go towards a scholarship in Rawls name.