By Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Public AffairsMay 29, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- Even the sky shed a tear as members of the Redstone Arsenal community remembered fallen warriors during a Gold Star Service Flag dedication at the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend.
An Alabama rain did not discourage Gold Star Families, friends and guests as more than 100 gathered at Redstone Arsenal's Bicentennial Chapel May 25 as the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command hosted the service to commemorate the permanent display of a Gold Star Service Flag at the chapel in honor of fallen warriors and the families they left behind.
"The Gold Star Service Flag reminds us of the importance of the gift of our freedom, earned by the fallen," said Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general. "The flag provides awareness and reverence, honoring the memory of service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our Nation, our values, and our way of life."
Dickinson said the Gold Star Service Flag helps us remember and honor America's fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, as well as their families and loved ones, who carry their memories and keep their legacies alive.
"As a Gold Star Mother recently reflected; for Gold Star Families, every day is Memorial Day," Dickinson said. "Every day, Gold Star Families remember their loved one's life, and they feel the loss, but they also feel pride in them, celebrate their memories, and honor their service to the American ideal of freedom. Without people like them, we as a Nation would not enjoy the freedom, prosperity, and many blessings we have as Americans.
"I am honored to join with you all in dedicating this Gold Star flag today," he added. "I am honored to share this moment with you to reflect on those you have lost and to remind you, our Gold Star Families, that you will always be a part of our Family."
The term Gold Star Family is a modern reference that comes from the service flag. The flags and banners were first flown by families during World War I. The flag included a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, during any period of war or hostilities in which the armed forces of the United States were engaged. If that loved one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. This allowed members of the community to know the price that the family had paid for the cause of freedom.
The United States began observing Gold Star Mother's Day on the last Sunday of September in 1936. The Gold Star Spouse Organization was formed before the end of World War II and is observed annually on April 5. The Gold Star Wives of America was formed April 5, 1945, before the end of World War II to provide support for the spouses and children of those who lost their lives while serving in combat.
"I was overwhelmed by the effort that was put into honoring the Gold Star Families and the love we get from Redstone Arsenal," said Don Adams, father of Army 1st Lt. Michael Adams. "More than anything we feel like we are still a part of the family; we are being honored, and it is nice that people show interest, and there is a tangible thing to remind them of the price of freedom."
During the ceremony, Sun Goodloe, surviving spouse of Chief Warrant Officer Edward Goodloe, played a song of dedication called "The Prayer" in honor of the Gold Star Families as a slide show of photos of fallen heroes played.
After the music ended, Dickinson and his wife Angie were joined by Gold Star children in the audience to unveil the flag, along with a plaque underneath that reads: This Gold Star Service Flag is permanently placed in memory of those who died in service to our nation, and to the Warriors who paid the ultimate sacrifice. You and your Families are always remembered in our hearts and prayers.
"Redstone is amazing and that is not the case for every installation," said Tiffany Little, surviving spouse of Army Spc. Kyle Little. "The support is never ending. It has been 11 years for me and I still get constant support.
"The dedication ceremony at the Bicentennial Chapel is amazing because it is a place where people gather and reflect on things and now they get this constant reminder of why they get to gather and reflect on their religious freedoms," she added. "The reason people get to meet here is because people actually died for their freedoms."
During the ceremony, the following fallen local warriors and their families were recognized for their sacrifice: Army 1st Lt. Michael Adams, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Bishop, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Scott Bowen, Army Staff Sgt. Tyrone Campbell, Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Dean, Army Spc. Jason Garner, Air Force Airman 1st Class Fabian Gonzalez, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edward Goodloe, Army Maj. Michael Goodridge, Army Staff Sgt, James Hall, Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Hall, Army Pfc. Rufus Joyner, Army Capt. Robert King, Army Spc. Kyle Little, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Adam Loggins, Army 1st Lt. Scott Love, Army Sgt. William Bill Meeuwsen, Army Capt. Andrew Pedersen-Keel, Army Capt. Waid "Chip" Ramsey, Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery Reuter, Army Spc. Justin Saint, Army Pfc. Wilber Sheffield, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonathan Smith, Army Spc. Christopher Spears, Army Staff Sgt. Dennis Springer, Army 2nd Lt. Cedric Strong, Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth Thomas, Army Spc. Ryan Winkelmann, Marine Corps Maj. William Winter, Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Woeber and Army Pfc. Kai Yancey.
"These individuals gave up everything they had," said retired Army Capt. Gary Michael "Mike" Rose, Medal of Honor recipient and father-in-law of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Scott Christian Bowen. "They gave all their yesterdays and all their tomorrows so you and I can sit here and talk in relative peace and calm. That is a debt we cannot repay them. One of the things we can do is make sure their family members know that their loss is not forgotten and is remembered throughout the year.
"These losses are not just felt by the families, but also by friends and members of the units they served in," he continued. "Here we are in 2018 and if we forget about their sacrifices, nothing else we ever do will matter."