An online petition at change.org to petition the Department of Defense to rename the Fort Hood air terminal after Elizabeth Laird started on Saturday had already reached more than 47,000 signatures by Tuesday — and continued to climb by the second.

The building is currently known as the Fort Hood Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group terminal.

Laird, who died Dec. 24, 2015, was affectionately known as the “Hug Lady” for attending every Fort Hood deployment since 2003 until her death, hugging an estimated 500,000 soldiers.

The petition was started by Christopher Peckham of Savannah, Georgia. On Monday, he posted to the site “I am honestly shocked that this took off so fast in the last 48 hours. I am going to do further research so we can make this happen! Thank you everyone!”

Many of those signing the petition wrote on the site that they were soldiers who had received one of Laird’s hugs both when they deployed and when they returned from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jonathan Glessner of Somerset, Pennsylvania, wrote: “3 deployments from Ft. Hood and at least 6 hugs from her. My last deployment she sat with me and some friends and told jokes and stories. She was truly (a) wonderful person.”

From Matthew McCann of Maryneal, Texas: “She was there to say goodbye and give a hug when we left. She was a welcoming sight and a hug when we got home. She was a very special lady and she is sorely missed.”

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

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