A woman in Texas believed to have hugged more than 500,000 soldiers who were deployed or coming home from deployment died on Christmas Eve.
Elizabeth “Hug Lady” Laird, 83, died on Thursday after a a 10-year battle with breast cancer. But even through her own battles she wanted to make sure those serving in the military knew someone cared about them, even if she told it through a simple gesture.
On Friday, a statement was released by the public affairs officer for III Corps, a subdivision of the U.S. Army, reading in part:
“For more than a decade, [Laird] has been personally saying farewell to our troops as they deploy and greeting them as they return. It is with heavy hearts that we express our gratitude for Elizabeth, not only for her service with the U.S. Air Force, but also in recognition of her tireless efforts to show her appreciation for our Soldiers and her recognition of their many sacrifices.”
Many of those who received a hug from Laird expressed their gratitude on a GoFundMe page for the “Hug Lady.” At the time, however, the funds raised were believed to be used for her nursing and rehab bills. It’s not known if the money will now go towards Laird’s funeral.
Many of the comments were from those who served in Afghanistan or had family members who served in the country.
According to KWTX News, one woman thanked Laird for giving her son, Matt, his last hug.
“Thank you for hugging my son Matt,” said the unknown woman, “It is more than likely the last hug he got when he left Fort Hood because he didn’t return from Afghanistan.”
Funeral arrangements for Laird are currently pending.
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