FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers, leadership and former soldiers came together on Monday to celebrate and honor Elizabeth Laird, affectionately known as the "Hug Lady," with a room dedication.
"I just called her Ms. Elizabeth," said Col. Brian Chepey, the incoming Garrison Chaplin. "For me, it was really a foretaste of heaven. That physical embrace really is, to me, an expression of one aspect of God's love for us."
Elizabeth Laird, known as 'The Hug Lady' to many on Fort Hood, was honored with a room dedication.
Her children were there to witness, speak and mingle with those that Laird touched during her time on Fort Hood, where it's estimated she gave out over 500,000 hugs from 2003-2015.
Lt. Gen. Pat White brought all of it into perspective when it came to the dedication she had for the soldiers who fought for our freedoms.
"The active component of your Army, today, is not even 470,000," he said. "She hugged the entire Army."
Elizabeth's children, Rick Dewees, and Susan Taylor didn't understand it fully in the beginning, the magnitude of what she accomplished.
"Mom would always say, 'My troops need me,'" Dewees said. "She wasn't lying, though. Her troops loved her. What they showed when she was in the hospital, she couldn't come to them. So, they came to her."
Sgt. Christopher Peckham was one of those soldiers and he said he only received one hug from her, but he hasn't forgotten it.
"I think she's incredibly special," Peckham said following the dedication. "She cared, she genuinely cared. It wasn't something she was told to do. She did it from the kindness of her heart and she cared for each and every person who walked through these doors."
It's been three years since Elizabeth died and Taylor said she misses her mother dearly. She also said her mother would think the dedication of a room is too much but she would also be humbled and say thank you.
"She always hugged people," Taylor said recalling her mom through childhood. "She loved the soldiers especially and loved people as a whole. Her mission of course, with the soldiers, she just loved people and wanted to show the love of God."
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