Never Forgotten

An Evening Vigil to Honor Our Hometown Hero

Sarah Bezdek, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Roseville community members came together to mourn the loss of Sergeant Nicole Gee who tragically lost her life along with 12 other service members in Kabul the previous Thursday.

The event welcomed all: Those who knew Gee and those who didn’t. Those who have served, but also those who might never know the loss that comes with it. 

It thus featured a wide variety of speakers, each sharing their own touching account of how Gee had impacted their lives forever. 

“Nicole represents everyone’s daughter, niece, best friend, the girl next door,” Roseville Mayor Krista Bernasconi said.

While Bernasconi did not know Gee personally, she still feels the impact of this loss on our community and can empathize with others as she is both a veteran and a former Oakmont graduate, like Gee. She was adamant on honoring Gee in some way.

“There was no question in my mind that we couldn’t do something for her,” Bernasconi said.

Senior Chaplain Mike Boon from the Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy was the second speaker of the evening.

“Freedom is costly,” Boon said. “Our grief and mourning is the last gift we have to give Nicole.”

Boon was able to set the mood for the rest of the evening. Even those who didn’t know Gee personally began to tear up at the loss to not only our community, but to the world. 

Gee’s father was able to speak at the event and honored her by telling stories of her as a child. He wants the world to not only know her for the Marine she was in Afghanistan, but also the person she was outside of the facts that surround her death.

He describes her as an ambitious and hardworking girl, who turned into an even more incredible woman. As her father left the stage, he spoke a desperate plea to community members.

“Never forget her,” Gee’s father said. “Please never forget her.”

While her aunt could not be at the event, she still had words to share in a letter read by Gee’s sister.

“Pick a song, a food, a place, they all lead back to her,” the letter said. “Everything does.”

Gee’s family will always cherish the memories they were honored to have with her while she was living, but going through their recollections of holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving is hard to do knowing that they will never get another one with her. 

However, while Gee is gone, her legacy will live on in our community.

“We promise you we will honor her legacy, as a scholarship in the high school district has been set up in her honor,” Bernasconi said.

After the event, community members shared their thoughts about the loss of Gee and proved that they will follow the paternal plea of her father to remember her.

“We thank her for trying to get this world back to the way it should be,” Denise Beniot said.

Other civilians discussed the importance of coming together during this time.

“We have to, and we should come together as a country,” Bill Johnsla said. “We are being divided and people can’t see it.”

With such a tight-knit community, Oakmont graduate Rebecca Wilkie remarked on how everyone can empathize with this event in one way or another.

“The family goes to my parent’s church and I have the Oakmont connection,” Wilkie said. “We just all feel it.”

While the U.S withdraws military hold in Afghanistan, the spirits of the fallen soldiers live on, not only in their service there, but also in hundreds of cities and towns across America. 

As a last word at the vigil, Bernasconi read a quote.

“The flag does not fly because the wind blows it; it flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”