LONG BEACH, CALIF. - The survivors of fallen service members deserve our nation's love and remembrance. The close relatives of fallen service members are known as the American Gold Star Families. On Feb. 13, 2016, several of these families, who have already given more than anyone should ever have to, joined together to connect with each other, and to write personal Valentine's Day letters to their fallen family member and to other American Gold Star Families.
Raena Granberry, the Southern California Region Survivor Outreach Services Support Coordinator, organized this second annual Valentine's Day event to honor and celebrate lost service members through expressions of love at the American Gold Star Manor, Long Beach, California. She said, "We appreciate the families and the sacrifice they've made. We want to honor their service member."
The Southern California Region Survivor Outreach Services support coordinator, Raena Granberry, celebrates lost loved ones with families of fallen service members through expressions of love at the American Gold Star Manor, Long Beach, Calif., Feb. 13, 2016. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Gregg Moore)
In addition to writing letters, the families each shared intimate stories about their fallen service member. Understandably, several family members became very emotional as they related their cherished memories. The families listened to one another tell about some of the favorite activities of their lost loved ones.
Lt. Col. Bettina Avent and Maj. Mark Cisco, chaplain, both of the Army Reserve's 79th Sustainment Support Command, enjoyed the privilege of joining the American Gold Star Families. Cisco opened and closed the event with an invocation and benedictions focused on the Gold Star Families. Avent shared her own feelings about losing a close friend in combat and showed her gratitude to the families. Avent quoted the Bible, saying, "There is no greater love than one who lays down his life."
Avent said she hopes this annual event will grow, “When Soldiers are deployed, many organizations and people show support by mailing care packages and letters. We want to do something similar. Every February, we plan to write letters to the families of the fallen to create an outpouring of support to honor the families of the Soldiers who showed the greatest love by laying down their life in service to our nation. We also want to give survivors an opportunity to share memories of their loved one.”
American Gold Star Parents tell about the son they lost in combat to other families of fallen service members at a Survivor Outreach Services Valentine's Day event in Long Beach, Calif., Feb. 13, 2016. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Gregg Moore)
The event concluded with the participants pledging to rally together next year for such a noble and worthy cause.
"We want to create a support network of like-minded families," said Granberry.
By U.S. Army Lt. Col. Gregg Moore
Provided through DVIDS
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