Remembering Sgt. Jeremy Andrew Katzenberger

Remembering Sgt. Jeremy Andrew Katzenberger

What you are about to read is written by my sister, Colleen Katzenberger. At 26 years old, she buried her husband, SSG Jeremy A. Katzenberger, when he was mortally wounded by enemy fire while on his 8th deployment in Afghanistan. Colleen and Jeremy's son was only 6 months old when his father was killed protecting a country he loved. Colleen changed professions after this event and is now a high school teacher with a passion for helping our youth achieve their goals.

If you have followed KC Cattle Company's story for any period of time, you know that Jeremy's legacy is at the soul of what I do and what I believe in. Today, June 14th, 2024, marks the 13th anniversary of his death. I have written about him often, and this year I decided to change it up. I want to bring you others' opinions that I think America could use more of. When Colleen asked me what she should write, I told her, "What does our following need to know from your experience and loss that America could use some more of?"

This is what she wrote...

 
This morning, I found myself at H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation watching a group of 12-15 year-old boys lead a flag ceremony in my son’s campsite. We’re here for our third summer session. While watching the ceremony, I couldn’t help but think about how much the American Flag and all the liberties it represents means to me. The moment took me back to the beginning of my appreciation for the American Flag. I know my understanding of what the American flag represents started with Jeremy.
 
Jeremy's official Killed in Action date is June 14, 2011. Ironically, June 14th is also observed as Flag Day across many places in America. 
 
The summer of 2004, Jeremy and I were dating and spending as much time together before he was to leave for basic training. We found ourselves lifeguarding at a local pool that proudly flew the American flag. If we opened or closed the pool, we were also in charge of raising or lowering the flag properly. I have a number of clear memories from that summer of Jeremy talking about the stars representing the 50 states and the stripes representing the original 13 colonies. He taught me the importance of not letting the flag hit the ground. He taught me why the flag is folded with such honor. He taught me to be proud of the flag. Jeremy spent his youth in Boy Scouts and had just concluded a year of ROTC. Jeremy had been taught the beauty of what the flag represents. And, I’m so thankful he proceeded to share that knowledge with me. He would continue to have these emotions towards the flag throughout his military career.
 
In my opinion, the flag represents the progression (not perfection) of a country. A country founded in liberty and independence. A country that I am proud to raise our child in. Yet, I feel like a minority in the current turbulent political climate where so much hatred towards the American flag is thrown around. I am often saddened by the lack of respect shown to the flag. As a high school teacher, it’s rare to see a student standing in attention to the flag while the pledge of allegiance is said during the morning announcements. The amount of disrespect and shame thrown across the political parties and the media currently makes it seem that most people are no longer proud of the American flag.
 
I can’t help but think about the flag that was folded and handed to me on June 28, 2011 at Jeremy’s funeral. The weight of that folded flag represented so much more than the death of my best friend and father of my child. It represented the end of a love story. It represented how important it was to Jeremy to defend the liberties so many people take for granted. It represented generations of people that want to be part of the progress. It represents people that believe in the beauty of a country despite her flaws. To me, it represents a courage founded in love and progress. I am forever grateful for Jeremy's courage to defend our country fully knowing the risk of his chosen profession. 
 
In these discouraging moments, I feel like Jeremy’s death, Everett and I’s sacrifice, happened in vain. Then, I have moments like this morning. I watched the next generation of America honoring the flag. I was reminded of all the small moments where I have seen people honor the flag. One of my absolutely favorite moments was the January 30, 2022 AFC Championship game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Everett and I were in attendance at this game. Ashanti was supposed to sing the National Anthem and her microphone failed. The audience didn’t even hesitate to step in and sing the national anthem. Everett and I attended this game. In the moment, his hand grabbed mine and we just looked at each other with tears in our eyes. There are many Americans that do honor the flag still. There are so many people that do honor our sacrifice. It was such a beautiful moment. In fact, everytime I’m at a public event and the national anthem is sung, I get goosebumps. 
 
So, on this 13th anniversary of Jeremy’s death, I am going to ask that you take a moment to honor the American Flag. Take a moment to respect the progress she represents. I don’t want to ignore the moments in our history that we wish were different. But, please acknowledge the progress that often came from these moments of shame. I appreciate the irony of the liberty we have in this country to not honor the flag. Truly. Jeremy also died to defend the right to express opinions like this. But, this gold star wife is going to ask that you take one day to honor Jeremy’s death by honoring our American flag. There are 13 folds in the American flag that was handed to me on June 28th, 2011. This is the 13th anniversary of his death and I feel the weight of the flag is just as heavy today. Yet, I’m still so thankful to be an American. I want to be part of her progress, not part of her hate. I challenge you to do that today. I know it would mean a lot to Jeremy. 
 
- Colleen Katzenberger
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