REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s Soldiers and civilians raised a Gold Star Flag to honor local families who lost loved ones while serving in the armed services.
Col. Todd A. Book, USASMDC’s chief of staff, speaking to the Gold Star Families during the ceremony at the command’s Redstone Arsenal headquarters on May 26, assured them that their family members would never be forgotten.
“The Gold Star represents so much: the courage and bravery of our loved ones who paid the ultimate price and the resilience of the family members they left behind,” Book said. “I and all of us at SMDC commend you, Gold Star Families, for bearing the Gold Star with grace. No one is as personally acquainted with sacrifice as you.”
With USASMDC being the only organization on Redstone Arsenal authorized to fly the Gold Star Flag, Book said it is “an honor and a privilege that we don’t take lightly.”
Rozeka Gates, USASMDC’s Survivor Outreach Services liaison, said that honoring Gold Star Families ensures them that they are still very much a part of the Army.
“Gold Star Families are the reason why we put this and other events together so that they know their loved one’s sacrifice was not in vain,” Gates said. “Our Soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice by serving our great country, and we owe them honor and respect for their bravery, courage and sacrifice. Our fallen Soldiers will never be forgotten and we will continue to show our support to their families.”
The blue and gold star banner tradition began during World War I when white service flags bordered in red were displayed from homes, businesses, schools and churches to indicate, by the use of a blue star, each family’s active service member in the U.S. military. A gold star indicated those who had given their lives for their country and allowed community members to know the price the family had paid in the cause of freedom.
In 2015, the Army authorized the Gold Star Service Flag to be flown under the American flag during significant observances, such as Memorial Day.
After the ceremony, Gold Star family members expressed their appreciation for remembering their service members’ sacrifice and what survivors go through.
Gold Star Family member James M. Ginas II, father of Sgt. 1st Class James M. Ginas III, said survivors remember their fallen Soldier every day.
“Jimmy was always extremely kind,” Ginas said. “Being a green beret, they are all tough guys but Jimmy was the nicest guy you’d ever meet. If people got in trouble he would always put his arm around them and make them feel better. That was his personality and we miss him.”
Ginas, a special forces Soldier assigned to Special Operations Command Europe, was killed April 18, 2015, while in the U.S. for training. While with the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, in Stuttgart, Germany, Ginas deployed twice to Afghanistan.
“All Gold Star Families I think will say the same thing, it’s hard,” said Ginas, alongside his wife Elizabeth. “All these families are suffering and days like today are an opportunity to come together and share our stories.”
Kay McDevitt is the grandmother of Spc. Paul Gordon Knaack II, a cook with the 82nd Airborne Division, who deployed to Afghanistan during his service. She said she is grateful for those who remember the fallen.
“Today is special and this means a lot to us,” McDevitt said. “I remember my grandson as a very strong man,” McDevitt added. “If anything that needed attention, he was there. That’s the way he presented himself to the Army and our country.”