National Veterans Memorial and Museum honors Gold Star families

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One by one, families stepped forward – these moms, dads, widows, daughters and sons – to gently place a white carnation in a wicker basket to commemorate and remember those they loved. who gave everything they had for the love of the country.

As they reached the edge of the reflective pool in the Memorial Grove at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, some have signed. A few knelt down. A couple of men greeted. Many wiped away their tears.

The Gold Star Family’s solemn vigil at the W. Broad Street Museum on Friday night was a reminder of what Memorial Day really is: honoring the men and women who have passed away while serving in the United States military.

These warriors will be missed forever

“Oh, how we will miss these warriors forever. We promise that we will never forget you and your families, ”said Captain David Kuntz, US Army Reserve Chaplain, as the invocation to more than 50 people gathered for the hour-long ceremony. And then he asked for prayers for the families who have lost so much. “Hold them in your arms until their tears stop and they can breathe again.”

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Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic stifled in-person Memorial Day services, and retired Lieutenant General Michael Ferriter, museum president and CEO, told families it was good to meet again.

Ferriter, a career infantry officer and Special Forces combat veteran, usually opens his public speeches by saying it’s a good day to be a soldier. But as he watched those snuggling up on a night when the air temperature was nearly freezing and the 20 mph winds were strong enough to knock down the American flag, he choked on him.

“Every day isn’t a great day,” Ferriter said. “And that’s why we have Gold Star family candlelight vigils.”

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Gold Star Families commemorate and remember loved ones who gave all they had for the love of the country in a ceremony at Memorial Grove at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum on Friday night.

The participants already knew, of course, the sacrifice. But Ferriter reminded everyone why their own stories are so important.

“Ceremonies like this allow us to continue to share the stories of those who have demonstrated the most selfless act of serving, protecting our freedoms and giving their lives for our country,” he said. declared. WWII or your aunt, brother or cousin who fought in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq or Afghanistan. “

LaRose highlights the price of freedom

And when addressing the group, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, also an Army Special Forces combat veteran, continued on the topic of making sure younger generations understand. the stories of those who came before them and the price they paid for everyone’s freedom.

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“This weekend, a grateful nation stops to remember those who have died in the service of our country,” said LaRose. “It’s about honoring their sacrifice. But it is also about transmitting it. There aren’t many things that are really worth dying for in this world. I would say this country is.

Memorial Day is not about in-store sales and ready-made meals, but remembers loved ones killed in the service of their country, Jim Groves said in a ceremony at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum on Friday night.  Groves and his wife, Leslie, lost their son, Army Chief Warrant Officer James Groves III, 37, when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan on March 16, 2013.

Silence has fallen on the grove

But it was when Jim Groves stepped onto the podium and picked up the microphone that silence really fell on the grove.

Groves and his wife, Leslie, lost their son, Army Chief Warrant Officer James Groves III, 37, when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan on March 16, 2013.

“Memorial Day is not about Memorial Day sales. It is not about barbecues or the opening of swimming pools. It’s not a happy day, ”Groves said. “Gold Star parents are no different. But we view Memorial Day very differently from most. For us, every day is Memorial Day.

Then, as retired Army Col. William Butler, the museum’s chief of staff, read the names of 23 fallen soldiers, airmen and marines, their loved ones left by this basket at the edge of the reflecting pool in their memory. A solitary bugle played taps and the strong winds carried the notes far away.

And finally, Chaplain Kuntz gave an emotional blessing.

“Whisper in the ears of our loved ones in Heaven,” he prayed, “and give them everyone’s wishes here and tell them how much they loved them.”

Members of the Gold Star family hold electric candles and carnations in a solemn ceremony by the reflective pool in Memorial Grove at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum on Friday night.

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