By Ms. Veran Hill (Jackson)September 28, 2017
About 80 Gold Star mothers and families gathered Saturday at the Lace House located on the Governor's Mansion Complex in Columbia, South Carolina, to recognize loved ones lost while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The South Carolina National Guard and Fort Jackson's Survivors Outreach Services hosted activities for Gold Star Mother's and Families Day, to express reverence towards the surviving family members. The event was attended by Barbara Livingston, wife of South Carolina's Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston; Assistant Adjutant General, South Carolina Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Jeffery Jones; Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Central Brig. Gen. James Raymer; Fort Jackson Garrison Commander Col. and Mrs. Steven Elder; and guest speaker, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
"Your loved ones raised their hand and made a commitment to this country," said Lott. "They will not be forgotten and you will not be forgotten."
For their commitment, we're proud. For their commitment, we're here today. Without that commitment, this country would not be free, he said.
In 1936, Gold Star Mother's Day derived from the custom during World War I of families hanging a banner or flag from the window of their homes with a colored star to denote a family member serving in the armed forces. A blue star meant the person was still living, but a gold star meant a family member had been killed in the line of duty. In 2012, Gold Star Mother's Day was formally expanded to include Gold Star families.
The attendees were offered a tour of the Governor's Mansion before the official program began. Activities also included an opportunity to write a note on a gold star for lost Service members; music from Fort Jackson's 282nd Army Band; a buffet styled lunch; the reading of the State's Proclamation designating Sept. 24, as Gold Star Mothers and Families Day.
SOS presented a replica of the State's Proclamation to all the survivors, gold corsages to Gold Star mothers and wives, and white carnations to surviving family members and friends.
"Don't focus on how they (Service members) died, focus on how the lived," said Ronald Phillips of Conway, S.C., as he shared the loss of his son, Staff Sgt. Ronald Phillips, Jr. In 2008, Phillip's son was killed by an improvised explosive device, two days prior to returning home.
The event concluded with the surviving families releasing a gold balloon in memory of a fallen service member. After the balloon releasing, Phillips teared-up and stated, "Every year, I say I'm not coming back to this event, but I do, to honor my son."
For one of Fort Jackson's leaders, the event was humbling.
Elder said, "It is so important to remember the sacrifices of our fallen and to also always support their families; this event demonstrates the commitment our community and Fort Jackson has towards honoring Gold Star mothers and families - what a humbling experience."