13 empty chairs: Walker man pays tribute to fallen service members

Michigan

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — A subtle salute in the yard of a Walker home honors the 13 U.S. service members killed during Thursday’s bombing near the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.

Homeowner Bruce de Wit draped American flags over 13 empty chairs placed outside his house on Elmridge Drive NW.

“These 13 gave their lives to try and help people they didn’t even really know, but they were willing to put their life on the line and tragically they lost,” de Wit said. “They need all the respect we can possibly muster up for them.”

Bruce de Wit set up a tribute in his yard honoring the 13 U.S. service members killed during Thursday’s bombing near the Kabul airport.

The suicide bomb also killed more than 100 Afghan residents.

Although he doesn’t have a military background or any immediate family in the service, de Wit says as a proud American citizen he felt the urge to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“This is not about me, this is about the fallen,” he said.

Since putting up the display Saturday, it has already gotten a big response: Whether it be cars honking as they pass by or the hundreds of likes and shares of pictures posted to social media.

He said several people have even stopped by to pay their respects.

“A lady … came by and thanked me for what I was doing and it was obvious her and I had to stop talking because otherwise we’d be crying,” he said.

One woman in Cadillac is planning a trip down to experience the display in person after seeing a picture on social media.

“Her son is part of that unit,” de Wit said. “I offered her to come on down and we’ll put her up or whatever she wants.”

Over in Wyoming, Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille is making a similar gesture. The restaurant has reserved a table for the thirteen troops killed, a beer glass sitting at each empty place setting.

Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille has set up a tribute for the thirteen troops killed, a beer glass sitting at each empty place setting.

It was this idea that helped inspire de Wit’s front yard display, although he never imagined getting this big of a response from the community.

“It’s really humbling. People are thanking me — I do not need the thank you,” he said. “I just want anyone who wants to thank me, to go up to a solider they walk up to and thank them.”

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