Friday, May 27, 2011

On Memorial Day

Memorial Day:
From the Eyes of a Gold Star Family

To some families, Memorial Day is a reminder that pierces the heart. It is a day they have come to experience in a way most never will. It started one day when a simple knock came on the door. That day changed their lives forever. The Military was there to tell them someone in their family had paid the ultimate price for our freedom. At that moment they became a Gold Star Family.

From the day he was born, SSG Mark A. Stets, Jr., US Army, was destined to serve. Since 1940, someone in his immediate family has served on active duty. Mark was a U.S. Army Soldier. He served during Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and finally was assigned to a group in Pakistan in a job he truly loved. He knew he was doing his calling. When we talked to him, there was never a doubt from him about his assignment. He loved it.

SSG Mark A. Stets, Jr.,
US Army

No one had to tell me Mark was gone. The day he died, I hurt all day until I got a call from my daughter-in-law confirming what I dreaded. I had to inform Mark's mother before the Army knocked on the door. We became members of the Gold Star Family that day. We wear a small gold lapel pin that doesn't cost much. We did not buy it, but the price paid to wear it cannot be measured.

On February 3, 2010, our family's 70+ years of continuous service to this country was broken. But our dedication to this country will never break.

-Mark Stets
Virginia Beach

"Bivouac of the Dead"
by Theodore O'Hara

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.
Read the full poem.

At the conclusion of WWII, Congress established the Gold Star Lapel Button to provide an appropriate means to identify widows and widowers, children, parents and brother and sisters of members of the Armed Forces of the United States who lost their lives in the defense of democracy and freedom during World Wars I and II and any subsequent armed hostilities in which the United States became engaged.

The Gold Star Lapel Button's unique design incorporates three symbols that indicate the loss: the Laurel Wreath Border signifies valor, and the Purple field signifies the family's grief and mourning. The Gold Star has been used since WWI to signify "Died in a Combat Theater."

Memorial Day Resources

-- Courtesy of Rep. Scott Rigell

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