Metro military mom, wife who lost husband in Afghanistan to march in inaugural parade

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WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Liberty often comes at a steep cost.

One military family from the metro wants to remind everyone of that, while taking to the streets of Washington during Friday's presidential inauguration.

Freedom isn't free. That's a lesson Linda Ambard wants the world to recognize. She's reminded of that day, April 27, 2011, when her husband, U.S. Air Force Maj. Phillip Ambard, was killed during a mass shooting at his military installation near Kabul, Afghanistan.

Ambard says she didn't ask for notoriety, pointing out she was a stay-at-home mother before her husband's untimely death. She now works in a civilian role at Whiteman Air Force Base. Ambard says when her husband was killed in that attack, she says her world fell apart, and she moved to Germany to escape an atmosphere that no longer claimed her.

"You lose where you lived, your support system, and your support network. People don't treat you the same. You become a visible reminder of what can happen to their husbands," Ambard told FOX 4 News on Wednesday.

Ambard's younger brother, U.S. Air Force Chap. Maj. David Leonard, helped conduct his brother-in-law's funeral. Services were held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, where Maj. Ambard served as a professor.

"I think it's important that we, as a nation, don't forget the cost of our freedom and that we support those who have had to pay those prices," Chap. Maj. Leonard said.

Linda Ambard says a non-profit group called TAPS helped her in a time of desperate need. TAPS provides counseling, retreats and educational options to those who are left behind.

"Very few people understand what a Gold Star Family is," Ambard said. "(TAPS) was a place for me to feel normal. You come together and you share your stories, your laugh or your tears."

This Friday, Ambard will march during the Presidential Inaugural Parade, bringing exposure to TAPS, an agency that she said helped her live again.

"I think it's important that we, as a nation, don't forget the cost of our freedom and that we support those who have had to pay those prices," Ambard said.

Ambard says she's thankful to her late husband for her life, for their 23-and-a-half year marriage, and for his sacrifice. She's hopeful her demonstration in D.C. will help every American feel that same gratitude.

Ambard will leave for Washington D.C. on Thursday morning. She's a mother of five children, four of whom have served in the United States Armed Forces.

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