Tennessee Valley toddler shows Memorial Day appreciation with one really big hug

CULLMAN, Ala. - Memorial Day is celebrated each year by those who recognize the significance of the men and women who lost their lives fighting for America’s freedom. But sometimes, that power resonates with even those who may not fully understand that significance, like a two-year-old boy.

CJ Matheny hugs the WWII Monument at Veterans Park in Cullman (Image: Amy Matheny)

CJ Matheny showed his appreciation with a big hug on the World War II monument in Cullman Veterans Memorial Park.

“He doesn’t know anything about Normandy and Pearl Harbor. He can’t find Iraq and Afghanistan on a map. He just knew this monument was special,” says Jenny Taylor, CJ’s grandmother.

CJ Matheny on the small-scale train that wraps around the lake at Sportsman Lake Park in Cullman (Image: Amy Matheny)

After riding the small-scale train that wraps around the lake at Sportsman Lake Park, the family decided to show their respects at the Veterans Memorial park. CJ was drawn to each bald eagle, American flag, and engraved name.

Though CJ may not understand the fullness of his actions, many do.

“His dad is very patriotic,” says Amy Matheny, his mother. Whenever in the presence of an active military member or a veteran, “He drops everything to shake their hand, and CJ does it too. It’s never too young to learn.” And never too young to remind a new generation the importance of honoring our fallen heroes.

CJ Matheny at Veterans Park in Cullman (Image: Amy Matheny)

You can find the monument in Cullman Veterans Memorial Park, address 1544 Sportsman Lake Road N.W., Cullman, Alabama 35055, located off Highway 31 in Cullman, Alabama at the entrance of Sportsman Lake Park.