ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - Limestone County observed Memorial Day by laying wreaths and reading a list of veteran's names that have passed away since last year's service. With every name, chime of the bell, and tear shed, comes a story of sacrifice and service.
Of all the names on the heart of Lieutenant General David Mann, one stands apart. His son-in-law, who joined the military after September 11th, 2001, was killed in combat a few years ago. “All of us who serve in the military, we understand the tragedy that takes place when we lose young men and women, but I think it really hits home when it’s a member of your family," says LTG Mann.
While Memorial Day honors those we've lost, Redstone's top general doesn't want citizens to forget those the fallen have left behind. “After the final services, after everybody goes home, that spouse is left with their lives changed forever and there’s a lot of loneliness and there’s a lot of uncertainty," he says.
Mann spoke to a standing room only crowd at the Limestone County Event Center. Almost every name read had a family member present, who knows first hand, just how costly freedom can be. “It’s kind of a never ending challenge we have that we continue to educate and that we don’t take for granted the sacrifices of those that have gone before us," says. LTG Mann.
Gold Star Mothers
In addition to LTG Mann, Edna Higgs, the President of the local VFW Auxiliary Chapter, spoke about the Gold Star Mothers program. “We do things for them like give them gifts, send them cards, pay their dues," says Higgs.
In addition to services, mothers who have active duty children can display a flag on their window. Blue stars mean the children are living. Gold stars mean they've passed away. “They appreciate it when we go out and visit them and do things for them. It’s just a pleasure to work with them," says Edna.
She's concerned about the program's future. Much like the crowd at Monday's Memorial Day Ceremony, the faces are older. She hopes a new generation will step up to continue these services. “Right now, we don’t have too many young people who are really involved in this. They are mostly elderly people and people like myself are getting older and we’re encouraging the younger ones to come out and join us to take a part in it," she says.
She certainly hopes that happens, so that the family members of those serving, and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, can get the assistance they so desperately need. “They feel like somebody else cares," says Edna.
If you'd like to learn more about the Gold Star Mother's program, you can visit their website: http://www.goldstarmoms.com/About/History.htm