KERNERSVILLE, N.C. -- Darlene Bratton keeps the memory of her son Christopher in her heart and on her body through T-shirts, a wristband and a pin.
"He was always there to help people,” Bratton said. “He had a heart of gold."
Her son was a specialist in the U.S. Army and was killed in Iraq in September 2008. He was only 25 years old.
"I had a knock on my door with two uniformed Army officers,” Bratton remembers. “I knew then that my son had been killed."
For the past two years, she's used her pain to help others, hosting annual bike rides in Christopher's honor. In 2012, she donated the money raised to the Carolina Field of Honor.
"It's amazing to have something here," Bratton said
The field will be open Saturday to the public, dedicated to Christopher and thousands of other men and women who served in the armed forces.
"We don't feel alone," Bratton said.
Bratton is happy that her son's life is being memorialized, but it's a memorial that brings back painful memories of the day Christopher was killed.
"There's a big hole in every one of our hearts, and it'll never be fixed," she said.
She hopes the memorial can help it start to heal and teach others who never got to meet Christopher why he fought and died for his country.
"I'm just glad that he's part of our family," said Ashlynn Freeman, Bratton's granddaughter.
"I never want my son's memory to fade away,” Bratton said. “I never want him to be forgotten."