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Memorial Day a time to reflect on selfless vet, wife

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Editor's note: In our "Behind the Scenes" series, CNN correspondents and anchors share their experiences covering the news and analyze the stories behind events.

(CNN) -- What can you say to someone who has lost a loved one to war? I'm afraid it's something I'll have to think about before we head back to Fort Bragg this weekend for our Memorial Day broadcast. This is after one of the stories we taped recently at Fort Bragg in North Carolina took a stunning turn.

Picture it: Our intention was to do a heartwarming story for a "Robin & Company" Memorial Day special, showing kids at an elementary school collecting pens for U.S. troops.

We went, we taped and we gushed. The students were enthusiastic that children in Afghanistan would be getting all the pens, markers and pencils that they, the kids of McNair Elementary at Fort Bragg, had collected.

The idea was the brainchild of Wesley Bauguess and a friend. Wesley's husband, Larry, who's with the 82nd Airborne Division, told her about his patrols as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He said the Afghan kids were fascinated with the U.S. troops and the pens they regularly carried on their uniforms. They darn near had to give the pens to the kids so they could get on with their mission for the day.

So Wesley got the idea that kids at Fort Bragg could collect pens for kids all the way over there.

So sweet and feel-good, right?

Well, after we returned to Atlanta, Georgia, we learned that Maj. Larry Bauguess Jr. had been killed in action a few days after we taped the "Pens for Progress" story.

Our hearts went out to Wesley and her two tiny girls, who sat in on the taping with the other children thinking that these pens would go to their "Daddy" and his men.

I didn't expect what happened next: Wesley insisted that we still run the story about "Pens for Progress" and that the story be about the kids and the collection, not about her and her loss.

Her selflessness, even in amid heartache and grieving, is moving. Here she is -- I can only imagine -- maybe dealing with issues like memorials, insurance, wills -- who knows -- yet she wants to make sure her tragedy doesn't overshadow the effort to help the kids in Afghanistan.

With her selflessness and his service, she and Larry must have made a great pair.

Some people's actions are examples for the rest of us. The only thing I could say to her is thank you for your family's sacrifice this Memorial Day, a day that will forever have a different meaning for her.


Robin Meade talks with students at McNair Elementary School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, about the "Pens for Progress" program.


• Audio slide show: War families
• Gallery: Welcome back
• I-Reports: Salute to troops


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