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We just got back from our first Gold Star event, “Tribute to our Fallen”. The Gold Star Family members were provided a dinner in the afternoon, we set up small memorials with pictures and items that belong to our children, and we mingled. We shared stories of their lives and of their deaths. It’s our way of keeping them alive until we see them again in the hereafter. I want to be able to describe what it was like to be a part of this, but I am struggling to articulate my thoughts and feelings. This is a population I never knew existed. A sub-culture that the world is unaware of. I never knew of their existence until I became one. Most will leave this life without ever knowing that these grieving “aliens” are here existing while they go on living. How wonderful to feel a part of a group and not alone, but at the same time how odd to belong.

I felt so much grief for these people as I asked them to share their son or daughter with me. I felt a bit of anger that this group has to exist at all, and I felt a tiny bit of denial that I am now a part of them. Every time I proudly told someone about Jake, I’d look at his picture and it didn’t seem like he belonged either. These young men and women are all dead, and I guess I haven’t completely accepted that Jake is dead too. There was a comfort and a discomfort that is too difficult to explain. But I know this; I have a strong desire to help them in any way I can, but is it possible to help any of us? I know their grief and their pain and if I could, I would take it away from every single one of them. I hate that war and hatred has done this to us and especially to our brave and wonderful children. I know it will never end and that this group will continue to grow and this breaks my heart.

After dinner we went to a field of flags at a military memorial park. They had a forest of flags arranged so that if you could see it from the sky, you would see that the forest was shaped like a folded flag. Every one of these flags had at one time been draped over a casket of a fallen hero. Some of the flags had 48 or 49 stars. Jake’s picture and name were attached to one of the flag poles. We had speakers from the military, prayer, music, and we released balloons for our children. The names were read for those casualties from the past year. Jake’s was read last of course; his only complaint with his name was that it began with “Wy”. If I could combine the feelings of comfort, anger, happiness, sadness, frustration, and healing into one emotion, this is what I felt. The best part is that we got to feel it together. None of us were alone.

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