FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker honored fallen warriors and their families during its annual Gold Star Mother’s and Family Day Luminary Service Sept. 27 at the Main Post Chapel.
Soldiers, family members, civilian employees and Gold Star Family Members all attended the event with the mission to keep the memories of those heroes alive and to support their families, according to Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Bob Crowley, Fort Rucker garrison chaplain, who spoke at the service.
“I’m very humbled to be able to speak to you this evening, to you Gold Star Family Members and especially the mothers that are here this evening,” Crowley said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a child – I have two of my own. But one thing I can do is remember those who went to pay the price for freedom.”
The chaplain then called everyone’s attention to the Bible verse printed in the program for the event, which read, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
“I live with the memories of those who I left down range, and I’m sure that each person in here can reflect (on someone similar) and realize that their sacrifice was not in vain. Freedom is not free,” Crowley said.
“We look at that verse and we see the first part, it says, greater love,” he said. “There are a lot of different words in the Greek language that are used in the Bible for the word love, but this particular word is actually a word that is used for brotherly love, but really it was more than that. And the reason that it was more than that is because Jesus was talking to his 12 disciples, much like Soldiers who go down range together.
“And then I began to ponder what it must mean for a family to lose a loved one. And that really encapsulates that second part – has no one than this,” Crowley said. “What a loss that must feel like at times. But it is more than that, it is a memory that we honor and continue to put forward into the future, because if you leave this post right now and you drive 50 miles in any direction, you won’t have what we have in this room.
“We have a bond, we have a trust and we have an understanding that those who have lost, we surround them with that same kind of love that each of you must have for your loved ones,” he said. “The military doesn’t seem that way at times, but I promise you it is … absolutely it is.
“In this last part, lay down this life for friends – we all know, those of us who have gone to war, that we don’t go alone, do we? There’s always strength in numbers, always strength in better weapons systems – we don’t go alone, we go with our friends, we go with those we train with, that we care about,” Crowley said.
“None of you can replace your loved ones, but I want you to have memories that continue to be told,” the chaplain continued. “You’ll have times, I still do, everyone does, where a tear may be shed, a remembrance made when you least expect it, but again, it was not in vain. It is for freedom that we go defend our nation, and those that go before us that have died on foreign soil must always be remembered. Know that they will never, ever be forgotten. These men and women in blue uniforms tonight will never let that happen. That is our sacred trust that we offer to you this evening.”
Once the chaplain finished speaking, eight Gold Star Families placed a luminary at the front of the church in memory of their loved ones. Soldiers, family members and civilian employees in attendance then placed their own luminaries afterwards.
The event narrator, Mike Kozlowski, told the Gold star Family Members that are and always will be an integral part of the military family.
“We recognize that no one has given more for our nation than the families of our fallen servicemembers,” he said. “Your loved one has not been forgotten, and, on behalf of a grateful nation and community, you are not forgotten.”