LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Every flag, over 3,300 of them, represents a Kentuckian's life that has been lost due to coronavirus-related reasons. However, their memory lives on in their loved ones.
Garry Haley is one of those over 3,300 that is more than just a number.
"You know, he was somebody's papaw. He was somebody's dad. He meant a lot," Katherine Cataldi said of Haley.
William Cannon is also more than a number.
"He treated you in the way he wanted to be treated," Stephanie Cannon Smith said of William Cannon. "And he was a great daddy, a great husband, father-in-law, papaw, friend and he was a good man."
Haley and Cannon both died of COVID-19-related complications in 2020. Their families now hold tightly to pictures and memories left behind.
"I try to share about him as much as I can because I don't want us to become numb to the fact that these are real lives. These are real stories," Cataldi said.
The two men lived different lives. William Cannon joined the Army and fought in the Vietnam War. He contributed to local newspapers and worked as a bus monitor in Fayette County after his service ended. Cannon's only daughter carried his picture when she received her COVID-19 vaccine.
"I was blessed to have him as my father and I will live the rest of my life trying to make him proud and keep his memory and story alive," Cannon Smith said.
Meanwhile Garry Haley made a living as a coal miner in Eastern Kentucky while raising four children alongside his wife. The last time Katherine Cataldi saw her grandfather was on a fishing trip.
"He was really a true Kentuckian. He loved to hunt, he loved to fish, he loved God," Cataldi said. "He always had God and his family not just at the top of his priorities, but at the top of his heart."
However different the details of their lives may have looked, the most important thing Haley and cannon shared in common was love for their family, a love which brought comfort to their loved ones and reminds them to push forward.