<b>FORT STEWART, Ga.-</b> Vivianaiy Cimarrusti is just your average seven-year-old. She plays video games and is in a dance class. But Vivianai holds a burden no child should have to carry.
Vivianaiy is part of a group of children who have lost a mother or father during Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom.
Along with 31 other children, Vivianaiy received the Gold Medal of Remembrance during a ceremony, July 18 at Cottrell Field on Fort Stewart.
The Gold Medal of Remembrance was created in 2006 to honor children who have lost a mother or father in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Seventeen Families lined up one-by-one to allow each child of a fallen hero to receive the sacred medal.
The 3rd Infantry Division honored the sacrifices fallen Dog Face Soldiers made and the Families they left behind.
"We do lots of recognitions, one for the units, one for the Family, but you wonder through all of those events, even our wonderful tree ceremonies on Warriors Walk, you wonder through all those events (if) the children understand what's going on, understand the depth of support and love the rest of the community, the rest of the unit members have," said Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, 3rd Infantry Division commander.
"So, to have this Gold Medal Remembrance ceremony lets us send that message directly to the children with no one in between."
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Cucolo spoke of the sacrifices of being a military child.
"You face challenges no other kids' face; constant moves , new people, new situations, challenge of making new friends, trying to keep old ones over distance," Maj. Gen Cucolo said.
"You're experts at unusual and important skills like garage sales, long car rides, sharing, and waiting always waiting, waiting in lines at the commissary or the (Post Exchange) or waiting for your Soldier mom or dad to return from a dangerous place."
For Vivianaiy, she was only six-years-old when she lost her father, Staff Sgt. Ernesto Cimarrusti.
Her father died while serving in support of OIF on March 10, 2008.
Vivianaiy said a day doesn't go by where she doesn't think of her father.
The ceremony only helps her remember her father, she said.
"My dad is with me every day in my heart," Vivianaiy said.
Though gone, Vivianaiy said she thinks of all the happy and fun times with her father and hopes to make him proud of her.
"I want to make my dad happy," Vivianaiy said. "I want to be a kid doctor."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16