Memorial Day

‘Life Gone Too Soon'; Waterford Man Remembers Brother Killed in Combat

Ari Cullers was killed in Afghanistan in 2011

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This Memorial Day, people across the state found a way to hold ceremonies amidst the pandemic. Whether it was online, at a distance or behind a mask, people took a moment to remember. It was the kind of remembering that has consumed every day of Jacob Cullers' life since 2011.

"It is not just Memorial Day," Cullers said. "It is his death day. It is his birthday. It is Memorial Day. It is every day, you know, that I am reminded."

Staff Sergeant Ari Cullers, Jacob's older brother, was killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan in 2011. He was on his second deployment with the United States Army. Ari Cullers was repairing a bulldozer in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan when he was killed in action by a rocket-propelled grenade.

"I just miss him," Cullers said. "You know, I tell people I don't think he would want to go any other way. He was just about it. He loved the army. He always wanted to be a G.I. Joe for Halloween."

On Memorial Day, when people across the country are remembering service men and women for their sacrifice, Cullers said he remembers his brother's laugh, sense of humor and hugs.

"Ari was like 6-foot-4. He kind of had a hunch, but he was just really long, lanky," Cullers said. "When he hugged you, his arms would just go completely around you."

Cullers, a veteran himself, said that he spends a lot of time thinking about the cost of war, his brother's death and the death of the thousands of other soldiers.

"I don't think it is worth it. I am still pretty....I am angry about it," Cullers said. "It is just, it is really complicated."

Cullers is an artist and said that he paints to help explain his ideas and frustrations about war. He also uses his work as a way to make sure that his brother is remembered.

Every year, Ari's name, along with the names of 64 other service men and women, is read aloud at a statewide ceremony.

Cullers said he hopes when people hear his brother's name and see his picture, they stop to think.

"I want them to take away that it was a life gone too soon," Cullers said.

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