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Posted: September 28, 2017 12:41 p.m.
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Gold Star mothers and their Soldiers honored

Staff Sgt. Sierra A. Melendez /

A Gold Star Family Member is embraced during a Lights of Love ceremony conducted on Cottrell Field on Fort Stewart, Sept. 23. The event was part of a series of events conducted to honor Gold Star Mother’s Day.

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 No parent should ever bear the burden of burying their children. However, for mothers that are members of the Gold Star community, this is their unfortunate truth.

Little can be done to comprehend or compensate for their pain and sorrow. As a token of appreciation for their sacrifice, the Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Survivor’s Outreach Services held several events over the weekend.

A Lights of Love ceremony was conducted on Cottrell Field, Sept. 23. Lanterns adorned with decorations from Gold Star Families and fallen Soldiers names illuminated the field. A teary-eyed crowd bowed their heads in remembrance as Taps echoed throughout the field.

“A mother doesn’t bring a child into this world expecting to one day see them laid to rest,” said Selinda Torbert-Blue, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Survivor Outreach Services coordinator. “A part of a Gold Star mother died alongside their children. A part they will never get back.”

“If at that very least we can hold a ceremony or a luncheon to honor that sacrifice,” said Torbert-Blue. “It’s a very small gesture in exchange for a very big and indescribable loss.”

A Gold Star Mothers and Family Day brunch was held at Club Stewart, Sept. 24. Col. Jason A. Wolter, Fort Stewart U.S. Army Garrison commander, was in attendance and spoke on the obligation of remaining connected.

“Being a part of today’s 8th annual brunch is a good start to staying connected,” said Wolter. “But only a start. It is difficult to share the appropriate words for this occasion, but I am even more convinced that we here must commit ourselves to carrying forward the work of securing this nation.”

“In doing so, we must remember our loved ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice – and we must exhaust every effort to stay connected with each other,” said Wolter.

According to the Department of Defense, the tradition of the Gold Star dates back to World War II. During the early days of the war, a blue star was used on service flags and hung in homes and businesses to represent each living active-duty member. As men were killed in combat, the gold star was superimposed on the blue star to honor the person for his ultimate sacrifice to the country.

Eventually, the mothers of those fallen service members became known as Gold Star mothers, and their Families as Gold Star Families.

Over the years, the definition of the title has evolved. When an active duty Soldier or a National Guard Soldier on title 10 orders dies, his or her mother automatically becomes a Gold Star mother – regardless of the circumstances behind their Soldier’s death. It’s an unwanted distinction, but one they wear proudly.

The last Sunday in September is recognized as Gold Star Mother’s Day, a day meant to commemorate and honor the women who often saw their children enlist or commission knowing war would be inevitable – and then have their worst fear imagined. 

Angela Murphy, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Survivor Outreach Services financial advisor, echoed Wolter’s sentiment and stressed the importance of remaining connected to the Gold Star community.

“When a survivor loses their service member, a lot of times they have lost their only link to the military,” said Murphy. “We provide that conduit to our Gold Star Family and all the military benefits and entitlements that they are eligible for. More importantly, we provide continued support.”

“It is a horrible new reality that they are forced to live now,” said Tolbert-Blue. “Here at SOS, we try to make it as bearable as can be for them to be able to move forward now that their loved one is gone.”

Both Tolbert-Blue and Murphy hope events such as the Lights of Love ceremony and Gold Star Mother’s Day brunch help increase community awareness to Gold Star Families in order to better understand their sacrifice.


“Often times, Gold Star Families don’t want any recognition for themselves,” said Murphy. “They only want to ensure that their Soldier – their son, daughter, spouse, father, or sister - is simply remembered.”

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