The Alecksen family built a temporary memorial for their daughter Erica, while they wait for her body to return home.
The Army Specialist from Putnam County died last week in a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. A funeral is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.
"This cross is a representation of God of course," said Lars, her father. "And the colors on the cross represent the American flag. It actually does have 13 stars and stripes. The blue represents the field that would normally have the stars on, but I felt that it was a representation of who Erica was."
"Everything you see here," said Lars,"And the things that are happening in the community, its a tribute to a wonderful human being that loved life."
The soldier's mother, Doria, says her daughter definitely knew that if it happened, she was ready for it. "Still to this day," she says "I'm hoping someone will wake me up and this is all a dream."
Another way the family keeps their daughter's spirit alive, is by setting up a donation fund at the People's Bank in Eatonton. Tim Baily says every time he thinks about her, he starts tearing up. He says he'd like to use the Erica Alecksen Memorial Fund to start an animal farm, to honor her love for animals.
Her father actually started the fund and is asking for donations. He has yet to decide what to do with the money.
Lars says the memorial stands in front of the Putnam County Courthouse to serve as a reminder of all American soldiers.
"There's probably a lot of people in this community that people don't even know are over there," Doria says. "Bring them home. Bring them home safe. Not in a box."
"When we were in Dover, Delaware the other day to receive her remains," Lars said, "I was informed at that point 271 United States Military personnel had already passed through that same ceremony already this year."