27, of North Berwick, Maine; assigned to the 744th Transportation Company, Army National Guard, Hillsboro, N.H.; died March 29 when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device and fell from a bridge near Balad, Iraq.
To honor SGT Jeremiah J. Holmes, his sister, Nancy Allard Jusseaume retrieved this stone from their parents herb garden in North Berwick, Maine.
Nancy Jusseaume describes the origin of the stone and her brother –
“The stone came from our parents’ herb garden. Their house was the gathering place for all of our cousins and friends. Most importantly, 4 the of July, Christmas eve… really all major holidays… Jay was the oldest of 5 siblings from one of my sister’s actually, so he is technically my nephew, though when my sister was murdered, they all were in orphanages for a while. Jay came to live with us when grandparents were given rights of guardianship – he grew up regarding us as his sisters and my parents as his more than the other, and us regarding him as a brother/son. I also lost my brother who was 2 years older than me (Jay’s uncle Brian who was also Army). Losing so many healthy family members young (Sheila-Jay’s birth mother was 31; Brian was 21 and Jay was 27), was tough on us all but built a strong sense of family. Jay especially cherished that time and would do everything he could to help out any one of us. His hearty laugh still fills my head today. He always wanted to please others and wanted to be able to provide for Mom & Dad – I think he had hoped to be able to do that for them when he returned. Their home and the gardens meant so much to him, because they gave him a chance to grow into a man much like the herbs that came out of the garden. The garden was next to the swimming pool, where he spent most of his summer when he was home – he joined the high school swim team. He was very proud of that, as well as being next to the horseshoe pits, where we always had ‘friendly’ competitions and lots of laughs. No one came to the house – family or friends or new acquaintances without playing! So, in a way, the herb garden (and the rock) saw a lot of memories throughout the years.”