FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The mothers of military service members who lost their lives in service to their country, their Family members, and leadership at Fort Benning and Columbus, Georgia, gathered at the Benning Club Sept. 29 for Fort Benning's Mothers Recognition Brunch.

Fort Benning's Survivor Outreach Services arranged Fort Benning's eighth annual brunch event on the same day as the nationally recognized Gold Star Mother's and Family Day, which occurs the last Sunday in September.

The Gold Star came to symbolize fallen service members during World War I, when President Woodrow Wilson approved a recommendation for mothers to display a gold star on a black armband. An official day of recognition was signed into law in the 1930s, and that recognition expanded to include all the immediate Family members of service members who died in service to the country.

"Gold Star Mother's Day is a solemn reminder to us to of the burden and sorrow you bear, of your loss," said Col. Matthew Scalia, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Benning commander, during remarks at the event. "We will never forget you or those who lost their lives in service to our country."

Scalia emphasized that Army Family members remain part of the Army Family in perpetuity.

"From the moment Soldiers enter basic training, they are taught to be members of a team," said Scalia. "It's in our creed to band together, to support each other, and in time to grow to be more of a Family than a team. That creed continues today, created to sustain a relationship with you and your Family, and in doing so, honor the service of your children."

"We are grateful to have you at this wonderful event so that we can each offer you our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude," said Brig. Gen. Kevin Admiral, the commandant of the U.S. Army Armor School here.

Admiral introduced Sue Peney, the Gold Star mother of Sgt. Jonathan Kelly Lee Peney. Since the loss of her son in Afghanistan in 2010, she has traveled the U.S. in support of other Gold Star Families, especially those of U.S. Army Rangers.

"No offense to regular Army, but my son was a Ranger, and they're stuck with me," Peney said during her remarks.

Sgt. Peney was born in Marietta, Georgia, in 1987, and he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2005. He completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Combat Medic Training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Special Operations Combat Medic Course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and the Ranger Course at Fort Benning. He became a combat medic assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

He lost his life aiding his fellow Soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2010 while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"The knock came on the door," Sue Peney said during her remarks. "You all - the Family and the military - know what that means. This blew my world apart, as it has many of you. But what we have that other folks don't have is the support of every individual here that's serving, the support of Fort Benning's SOS center.

"The individuals that he served with, some are here," she continued. "The mentors that took him under their wings are here. And also many of you took me under your wing.

"This is a small particle of dust in everyone's life," Peney continued, "but this Gold Star Brunch means our children will not be forgotten."

The mission of Survivor Outreach Services, or SOS, does not stop with hosting events such as the brunch. SOS provides financial counseling, referral services to governmental and non-governmental organizations, special monthly events and monthly steering committees.

To learn more about the Army's Gold Star Program, visit www.army.mil/goldstar or the "Related Links" section on this page.

To learn more about Fort Benning's Survivor Outreach Services, visit https://benning.armymwr.com/programs/survivor-outreach-services or the "Related Links" section on this page.