On the evening of November 9 2019, my husband and I attended our local Gold Star Dinner honoring Gold Star Families. A Gold Star Family is the immediate family(s) members of a fallen service member who died while serving in a time of conflict.
Veterans aged and young from all service branches, ranks and wars were there wearing ribbons, war medals, uniforms once worn, along with their stories, their injuries and beneath it all their utmost respect for our country. Salutes to the flag were stern, not feeble. Voices sang the national anthem with robust, not old shakiness. We sat near a Korean War veteran in his 90’s now. I thought of my father who served in the same war and what he would be like now with his stories if he had lived. Solemn ceremonies took place as we stood listening to the posting of the colors,
the missing but not forgotten soldier’s table,
and the meaning of what each of the thirteen folds of the flag that I had long forgotten.
There were no politics or differences of opinion on Saturday night. Instead, there was a grieving mother, a proud father, moving speakers describing how their sons were recently lost and why. Moving words of being visited by the military detail on the steps of their front porches. Moving words of how it all happened and what their sons did to save others. Moving words of how our government taxes their sons death benefits because it is considered income. Moving words of PTSD and suicide of our military members and veterans.
Being a Gold Star Family is something that no one wants to be a part of or asks for. I sat thinking and thanking God I never had to go through this. Saying “Thank you for your service” is never enough I feel. “Thank you for your sacrifice” is more realistic. And…the words “Happy Veterans Day” are not always appropriate. There is nothing “happy” about being a Gold Star Family.