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This is one gold star you don’t want

By Jim Hayes

Typically, this space is reserved for commentary about items which it is thought will resonate with Volunteer State Community College students.

Not so, this week. This week we will attempt to reach an audience that likely includes some of our students, but this message is more likely to connect with Vol State’s faculty and staff.

Yesterday was Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.

It is a day set aside to remember the families who will never again see their sons or daughters who died in service of this country.

The gold star has been around for a long time.

In 1918, the Woman’s Committee of National Defense suggested to President Woodrow Wilson that the mothers of soldiers killed in World War I be allowed to wear a black armband upon which was embroidered a gold star.

In 1936, the United States Congress officially designated the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.” President Barrack Obama expanded the gold star designation to include all family members in 2009.

But somehow, its commemoration has fallen through the cracks. Perhaps the American people feel that paying their respects on Memorial and Veterans Days is enough (although, those days are more often marked with cookouts and pool parties rather than commemorations of those who served this country).

However, the Gold Star mothers and their families are still here and still grieving.

Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving dinners are still celebrated. But there will always be the feeling that something is missing. Each birthday passes, but there is no longer anyone to bake a cake for, or to hug and congratulate for making it through another year.

This has to be a special kind of torture. One borne silently. The missing family member unacknowledged yet never forgotten.

It is a familial sacrifice, yet one that barely registers on anyone’s radar.

Well, for the record, it made a big blip on ours.

You have our condolences, our sympathy and, if needed, our shoulder to cry on.

Your son or daughter made their sacrifice and yours will go on for the rest of your life.

Nothing will ever replace that empty spot at holidays and birthdays, but know that you will always have our ungarnished gratitude.

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