Lehi neighbors show support for Utah National Guard soldier’s family

Mar 31, 2024, 10:51 PM | Updated: Apr 1, 2024, 8:12 am

LEHI A Lehi neighborhood celebrated this Easter with a bit of patriotic flair.

One of the families in the neighborhood recently had to say goodbye to a family member serving with the Utah National Guard for the next several months. Several of their neighbors worked together to create a unique show of support for him and his family.

Kurt Meryhew was deployed to Djibouti for 10 to 11 months.

“This is our third deployment together,” said Kristen Meryhew, his wife. “His last one was five years ago, so it’s been a little while, and our kids are older. We have an 8-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old now.”

She said this deployment is different because their children are more aware their dad is gone. Their neighbors rallied together to show them some support by decorating the streets.

A Lehi neighborhood is showing support for a family who has had a loved one deployed overseas by the Utah National Guard. (KSL TV)

American flags

When their next-door neighbor Maria Peck learned Kristen Meryhew’s husband would be deployed, she lined the streets with American flags.

“We went and knocked on every door,” Peck said. “My husband and some of the fathers around here, they just went and knocked and everybody was so willing to do it.”

She took it one step further and surprised Kristen Meryhew and her children that night.

“I thought, ‘You know what? There’s a lot of people that have lights that can change colors, I bet they would do that,'” Peck said.

She said people immediately changed out lightbulbs and rehung lights on their homes in the colors of red, white and blue to honor the Meryhews.

“You just are so grateful for these people that leave their families to help support our country, and I love our country, and so I want to do anything I can to help our soldiers,” Peck said.

Touched by the displays

Kristen Meryhew said she was touched by the displays.

“It was really, really beautiful,” she said. “It was just gorgeous to see the support from people who honestly, I haven’t even ever spoken to.”

Easter was the first holiday the family celebrated without Kurt Meryhew.

“Last night, I had my moment where I was like, ‘I’m doing this alone,'” Kristen Meryhew said.

But, she said her next-door neighbor had another kind act up her sleeve.

“Miss Maria again and her cute kids, she has these twins, they wanted to do an Easter egg hunt for my kids,” Kristen Meryhew said. “So this morning, they came out bright and early and put eggs out on the lawn.”

She said her husband was able to Facetime the family while her children gathered eggs.

“I’m not alone, but I am doing it without him here to fill the eggs with me and to get the baskets ready,” she said. “But even through that, my parents helped out with the baskets, so I didn’t have to shop with the kids, so it’s hard, but there’s light within that story, too.”

Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday, many of the homes still had patriotic light displays up.

“It was really moving to see that,” Peck said.

Kristen Meryhew said she tells her children that even though they miss their father, it doesn’t mean they’re having a bad day or life is bad.

“A couple of nights ago, my 6-year-old, as I was putting him to bed, he started to cry and I said, ‘What’s wrong, buddy?’ and he said, ‘I just missed my dad. My dad’s across the world, my dad’s on the other side of the world.’ So that was really hard. In those kind of situations, I always try to validate their feelings.”

She said she wants them to continue their routines and continue having fun. She said the lights remind them daily how much they’re supported.

“It reminds me there are people in every area of our lives that we interact with every single day that, you just have no idea what they’re experiencing in life, and because someone else has something hard doesn’t mean that you’re hard isn’t difficult too, or that yours is harder than theirs,” Kristen Meryhew said. “Even little signs of support can mean a lot to people.”

Many of the neighbors have kept up their light displays since Kurt Meryhew was deployed last month. That way, his family can look out the window and be reminded of their own, small army behind them.

“I just want people to know there is so much good in the world, like, we hear bad all the time and there’s just so much good, and really if you reach out, people will be there for you,” Peck said.

Kristen Meryhew said she sent her husband images of the decorated houses.

“I think it’s really important for him to know that we have support back home so that he’s not worrying about us and what we are trying to get through here so that he can focus on his mission,” she said.

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Lehi neighbors show support for Utah National Guard soldier’s family