11 Jan

Soldier remembered as a patriot

first_img“She was the light. She is my light.” That theme ran throughout the service – from the benediction delivered by Archbishop Mousheg Mardirossian of the Armenian Apostolic Church to the reflective dignity of the military funeral. Uniformed soldiers punctuated the service with taps and a rifle salute, while Stewart’s parents and brother released 37 white doves – one for each year of her life. “The best we can do is to remember Carla as she lived, bringing life, love and joy to those who knew her and pride to a nation,” said Esther Agopian, who delivered the eulogy. “We marvel at your will and we will always celebrate your strength, your courage and your conviction,” she said of Stewart’s memory. The older of two siblings, Stewart grew up in La Ca ada Flintridge and Glendale. She was an accomplished ballet dancer and enjoyed the outdoors. She married Brendan Stewart in 1995. Her brother, Richard “Rick” Babayan, was her “forever best friend,” Agopian said. “With Carla and Rick as the dynamic duo, there never was a dull moment in the Babayan household.” Yet Carla Stewart always yearned for a meaningful life in service to others. “Many times she would say to Rick, `It shouldn’t be either-or, should it? Peace and justice should belong to all people, everywhere, all the time; isn’t that right?”‘ Agopian said. Her fellow service members nicknamed her “Stuart Little” after a helpful mouse in children’s books. “(She was) always first to help with the biggest of tasks and always greeted you with the biggest smile,” said Agopian, reading an e-mail from Sgt. Fredrick E. Moore, who served with Stewart. In the message, Moore related a poem read during her Feb. 6 funeral service in Iraq. “We thought we felt your touch today in the breeze that rustled by, and then we heard the angels say her spirit will never die.” [email protected] (818) 546-3304 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Babayan saluted his daughter’s flag-draped casket, then fell to his knees in prayer as about 300 family and friends gathered at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park Hollywood Hills cemetery to remember Stewart’s life. Born in La Ca ada Flintridge, she enlisted in the Army Reserves about two years ago and was assigned to the 250th Transportation Company based in El Monte. After completing basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Stewart was deployed to Iraq. She was killed Jan. 28 when her vehicle overturned in Tallil. Stewart’s mother, Emmy Aprahamian, said her daughter showed immeasurable kindness toward others. “Carla knew that our individual duty and responsibility in life is to polish our souls and become better human beings,” she said. “By doing so, we heal ourselves and heal humanity at large. In the eyes of her father, Carla Babayan Stewart was always his beautiful daughter with an infectious smile. But at Saturday’s memorial service for the 37-year-old Army specialist killed in a convoy accident in Iraq last month, she had become much more. “I thought I was the tough one, the patriot of the family,” said Edmond Babayan, Stewart’s father and a retired Marine. “This young lady, she said if her unit wasn’t called, she was going to go on her own anyway. “I’m humbled by you, Carla. You turned out to be the brave, the tough, the best patriot of all of us. All I can say is until we meet again, I have to do my final salute to you as a humble Marine to my beautiful, tough hero.” last_img

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