The letters and stories about their son still arrive to the Hines home in Newburyport, even though it has been 13 years since 1st Lt. Derek Hines was killed.
"As a parent, I guess that’s the type of child you want to bring up. He was a difference maker in his short time," said father, Steve Hines.
By the age of 25, Hines had already made a name for himself in his community and for his country. A hockey captain at West Point, he graduated in 2003 and went on to complete Army Ranger School and Airborne School. Just before taking a six-month leave from his post in Afghanistan, Hines was shot and killed.
"It changes you forever," said his mother, Sue Hines. "You didn’t get to see all the good stuff he might have been able to have, but that’s how life works."
But with three other kids at home, the Hines family had to push forward and try to find some meaning in their loss. With the help of family and friends, they established the 1st Lt. Derek Hines Assistance Fund to help other service men and women in the state.
"Derek was always about helping his men and his soldiers always came first," explained Steve Hines. "The community has embraced him and our family."
Saturday, they were reminded of just how much support Derek still has in and outside of his community. For the seventh year in a row, hundreds showed up to run a Flag Day race in his name. Over the years, the event and others have raised approximately $500,000 for their fund.
"It’s just people helping people. I just wanted it to be about love," said Sue Hines. "And I wanted it to be about families."
For the Hines family, it is always a bittersweet day. They live in a home and community that still carries so many reminders of their loss. But in the years since, they have managed to keep their son’s memory alive.
"We don’t like to go back to day one," said Steve Hines. "That’s why we do what we do."
If you would like to learn more about the 1st Lt. Derek Hines Assistance Fund, please click here.