ARLINGTON, Va. — The Survivor Outreach Services and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Center for Initial Military Training chapel staff at Fort Eustis, Virginia, teamed up with personnel from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, to provide transportation for local Gold Star mothers to attend the 75th Annual National Gold Star Mother’s Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Sept. 27.
Gold Star Mothers Day is observed annually on the last Sunday in September to recognize and honor parents who lost a son or daughter who served their nation during a time of war or conflict.
This year’s ceremony involved not only the Gold Star Mothers of America, Inc., but also Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc., and distinguished guests such as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David Halverson, Installation Management Command commander and assistant chief of staff.
“It blessed us as far as being able to provide this opportunity for the mothers,” said Rochelle Crockett, Fort Eustis SOS support coordinator. “A lot of times, you don’t know how many people this impacts until you go up to an event like this and see who all is saying Gold Star is important.”
This was not only the first time the Eustis group attended the event, Crockett said, but the first time some of them visited Arlington’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the observance began with The Changing of the Guard and a wreath-laying ceremony. During the wreath-laying, representatives from Gold Star and Blue Star Mothers grasped each other’s hands in support as they prepared to take part in the ceremony with the U.S. Army 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) sentinels.
“I felt like I was the only one who had ever lost a child, but now that I’m with this group of mothers and I know we’re here for the same reason, it gives me comfort — it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one,” said Avis Wimberly, Hampton Roads, Virginia Gold Star Mother.
After the wreath-laying, the mothers made their way to a recognition ceremony and reception. During the ceremonies, Gold Star Mothers and keynote speaker Halverson spoke about the importance of the day for not only remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, but also highlighting the influence the mothers have on military members and their families to this day.
“You are always to be members of our Armed Forces,” said Halverson. “What you have been through takes great strength and shows great faith … Your healing power and volunteerism spans generations. Thank you for sharing your stories and inspiration with those carry on the mission.”
For Wimberly, the support shown not only at the event, but throughout the nation, was more than enough to bring a tear-filled glimmer to her eyes.
“This is just a really specially event. That the country at large thinks enough of us mothers who have lost a child to give a service like this means a lot,” said Wimberly. “It means a lot that they honor us, and that we’re not forgotten — that’s the biggest thing. They never forget us and that’s special.”