By Ingrid Schnader
When Charon Rivers’ son, Thomas Rivers Jr., died in Afghanistan eight years ago, the one thing she wanted more than anything was for him to be remembered.
Charon and Tom Rivers’ longtime friend U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, said he wanted to find a way to honor Thomas Rivers Jr.’s sacrifice. Palmer pursued legislation to dedicate the Birmingham Post Office Meadowbrook Station to him. That station was dedicated to Thomas Rivers Jr. during a ceremony Sept. 18.
“I think it’s too easy to forget the sacrifices that have been made, not only by those who have given their lives, but by those who suffered the wounds of war that still live among us,” Palmer said at the ceremony. “So I hope that when people come in to do their business at this post office … that just for a minute, they’ll be reminded of what’s been done for us and what’s being done for us every day.”
At the ceremony, Charon and Tom Rivers unveiled a plaque and photo of Thomas Rivers Jr. to be displayed in the post office.
Thomas Rivers Jr. grew up in Hoover and graduated from Briarwood High School in 2007. Immediately following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Thomas Rivers Jr.’s battalion deployed to Iraq in 2008, and he returned home seven months later.
“We were at that age apart where we kind of butted heads through high school,” said his sister, Rachel Walters. “But I remember he came back from the marines, and he just had such a respect for our family, and for God and for our country.”
He was deployed again in March 2010, this time to Afghanistan. That next month, he was standing post to watch for Taliban combatants when he triggered a bomb and died.
“I’ll never forget the morning that I got a call … that another sacrifice was laid on the altar of freedom,” said Palmer.
Palmer was out of town when Thomas Rivers Jr. died, but he said he drove home to comfort the family.
“But at the same time, being filled with great pride in knowing that young man and knowing the family,” he said. “And knowing what he did not only for our country, but for me. It’s a sacrifice for all of us.”
Thomas Rivers Jr. is buried at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo. He was the first Alabama soldier killed in action to be buried there.
“You’ve just got to smile when you try to imagine what he’s thinking right now,” said Tom Rivers. “I just know that he’s smiling too.”