About 40 Virginia City residents came out in the wind and rain for a candlelight memorial to Staff Sgt. Bryan Bolander, the son of a local resident.
Staff Sgt. Bolander was killed by an improvised explosive devise in Baghdad last Tuesday. He is the son of local resident Greg Bolander, stepson of Brenda Bolander, sister of Cassie Bolander, an eighth-grader at Virginia City Middle School, and grandson of Jack and Dorothy Bolander, all of Virginia City
Although the wind kept blowing the candles out at the memorial, held Sunday evening in front of the Comstock Wild Horse and Mining Museum on C Street, nothing could extinguish the emotion of the memorial or the closeness of the community members.
Cathylee James, an Air Force veteran who organized the event, said that even though most of the attendees didn't know the soldier, who was raised in Southern California, she said the community cares and offers support to his family.
"We are all family, and we will carry Bryan in our hearts always," she said.
Country singer Lacy J. Dalton, an area resident, sang the song "Summerland," which she had sung at a memorial for her mother who died in 2007.
"God bless you and bless Bryan's soul," she said to the Bolanders. "Let it go into the light easy, and let the angels comfort this family. Know that he died for this country, which is a great honor for all of us."
Brenda Staples, who owns Sgt. Major's Silver Dollar Saloon with her husband, Bryan, recently had knee surgery but couldn't stay away.
"I had to come," she said. Both she and her husband are veterans, and Bryan Staples is now a contractor working on a military base in Qatar.
Some brought flags to wave, and others were moved to tears by the song and the tragedy.
"It's a great community," said Mark Edmondson, a neighbor of the Bolanders. "There's a lot of tourists, but now it's just us locals."
The family is getting ready to travel to Fort Campbell, Ky., where Staff Sgt. Bolander was stationed, to welcome his remains and participate in a memorial there. A memorial has been held in Iraq. The soldier's platoon will be coming back for the service. Staff Sgt. Bolander will then be buried in Clarksville, Tenn., where his mother resides.
"It's been hard, but I know next week will be harder," he said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-7351.