ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. –A barbecue picnic was held to pay tribute to local Gold Star families at Quarters One, the historic home of the APG senior commander, Sept. 10, 2022.
This event was held in honor of Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, which is the last Sunday of September. APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Edmonson II and his spouse Ellen Edmonson served as hosts. During opening remarks, he told the 21 Gold Star family members in attendance the event celebrates them and their loved ones.
“When I look at you I see inspiration, I see determination and I see love,” he told the Gold Star families.
He said Quarters One symbolizes APG and the surrounding area.
“Whenever you drive by this house, this is your house, we are just temporary occupants,” he said. “We are proud to be the temporary occupants and to open our home to you.”
Edmonson said he looked forward to getting to know the Gold Star families better and hearing about their loved ones.
“They are a part of what makes this nation so great,” he said.
With temperatures in the low 80s, Edmonson encouraged attendees to relax and enjoy a catered barbecue buffet from the APG Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation Special Events team. He thanked those who facilitated the event behind the scenes.
“It is a team sport,” he said, about the number of people and organizations on the installation involved with hosting a Gold Star event.
In addition to the catered meal, the event included games, face painting, a bounce house and raffle prizes.
“This is our first Gold Star event,” said Gold Star spouse Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mary Heath, who attended with her son Jerry “JJ” Heath to honor the late Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jerry Heath. “They are very welcoming and I am appreciative that they would open their homes and their hearts to us, and give us part of their day, and allow our family to be part of their family for the day.”
Gold star mother Gloria Crothers attended to pay tribute to her son Marine Sgt. Michael Heede. She described it as a “phenomenal feeling” to be around the military and other Gold Star families. She said it is “healing” to have the opportunity to talk about her son.
“It’s very encouraging when you are around other people who have sacrificed like you have,” she said. “It is important we have this time to be able to comfort each other, communicate and try to help each other.”
Crothers described her son as very driven and knowledgeable. He would stay up late researching the history of the Marine Corps, she said.
“He was very proud to be a Marine, it was everything to him,” she said.
Mike Farlow, Army Community Service outreach survivor coordinator, said he appreciates being able to visit with Gold Star families in person again.
“It was really nice to see the smiling faces as the Gold Stars were able to reconnect with each other and APG leaders,” said Farlow. “Our Gold Stars consider APG to be their home military base no matter how far away they live or what branch of service they represent. We had Gold Stars from every branch of service, with the exception of the Coast Guard, represented. The amount of time, effort and care that went into the planning and execution of this event is a true testament of the love that FMWR and APG leaders have for our Gold Star Community.
Farlow said he received positive feedback on the more casual nature of the event. He compared it to a family reunion, with plenty of time for food, fellowship and fun.
“This allowed our Gold Stars and APG leaders to actually spend real genuine time with each other in a more laid back setting,” he said.