COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Memorial Day is about honoring those who died while serving our country. It’s a special day for everyone, but especially for those whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.
To that end, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum held a candlelight vigil Sunday night for Gold Star families.
Some of those at the vigil lost parents, children, and spouses. Members of the Gold Star families said it is a constant healing process, but that the connections they’ve found in each other helps them through.
“I think those are the things that connect you and the more you talk about it… the hurt doesn’t stop, but at least you’re able to know that there are people out there that know how you are feeling,” said Maj. Gen. Sharon Bannister, a medical operations director for the U.S. Air Force as well as a Gold Star family member.
Every person at Sunday’s vigil had a reason for taking part.
“To have somewhere to come and continue to heal and feel supported in your own city, at a national museum, is really, really special,” said Jennifer Ballou, deputy chief of staff for the National Veterans Museum and Memorial.
Gold Star families are mourning a family member who died in the line of duty.
“My husband, staff surgeon Eduardo Loredo, was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010,” Ballou said.
The vigil was about honoring and remembering them, but also about connecting with each other.
“It’s the ability to talk to somebody that understands,” Bannister said.
Bannister’s father’s plane went down while serving in Vietnam. She was only six years old at the time. For almost 30 years, he was considered missing in action, and his remains were officially found in 2007.
“A long time in between of not knowing and we never talked about it,” she said. “We had letters that my dad had written home. One of the letters to my mom said, ‘If I die and don’t come home, please don’t let me die to Sharon and Rebecca,’ and it just broke my heart, but he hasn’t died and I continue to talk about him and I continue to try to find ways to connect with other veterans.”
With every name that was read and the playing of “Taps,” whether on Memorial Day or any other day, these families are remembering the fallen and hope others will, too.
“Celebrate the day and honor the people who are allowing you to have that celebration,” Bannister said. “Try to find somebody, even if you haven’t lost somebody that’s served, look somebody up and try to find their story and just talk about them for a minute.”
There will also be several events at the museum throughout Memorial Day on Monday.