Letter: Remembering lives lost during Hudson flood of 2003

Published:

How well do you know the history of the town you call home? It's a question I asked myself after learning about the true devastation the July 21, 2003, flood had upon Hudson residents. The topic of the flood came up during a conversation with one of my neighbors. I was shocked and embarrassed because I didn't realize how devastating the loss truly was.

Two Hudson residents perished that day. One was an 18-year-old recent high school graduate named June Young Pak. During the hard rains June and his younger brother, Jae, were helping neighbors get their cars out of an underground parking lot, when another resident, R. Chris Kirby, began yelling for help. June made a split-second decision to bravely attempt to help him, and in doing so, they both became trapped behind a door with rising water. As the pressure from the water became more intense, Jae relentlessly tried to open the door and free them. Tragically, both June and Mr. Kirby perished.

After hearing the story, my neighbor and I decided to take my two young sons to St. Mary's cemetery for a bike ride. While there, we came upon a headstone that caught our eye. It was youthfully decorated, and notes were hanging on a tree nearby. We walked over and read the name aloud, June Young Pak. Inquisitively, one of my son's asked who he was. Retelling the story, we stood silently to honor June's memory.

"He died a hero," is what one of my sons said.

Quite an unforgettable moment. The Pak and Kirby family's devastating losses will forever be with anyone who knows their story, and June Young Pak's memory is still touching many residents today. It's the silver lining we found from what was otherwise a dark day in Hudson.

Katie Vogel, Hudson

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