By Cheryl RodewigOctober 3, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Oct. 3, 2012) -- It's difficult for someone who has never lost a son or daughter to understand what that pain is like, said Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Maneuver Center of Excellence commanding general, Sunday during a Gold Star Mother's Day luncheon on Fort Benning.
"Our nation, our armed forces and especially those who were privileged to serve with your sons feel your loss deeply, grieve with you and pray that fond memories and pride associated with your sons' service will lessen your pain and sorrow," McMaster told the parents of fallen
warriors gathered at the Benning Conference Center. "There's a saying that grief shared is grief divided, so I hope that today as we share our grief over the loss of your sons -- our comrades in arms -- that you'll find comfort and relief."
Always held on the last Sunday of September, Gold Star Mother's Day is set aside to honor the mothers of service members who have given their lives for their country. The organization, founded in 1928, includes nearly 150 chapters nationwide.
"It gives us mothers a way to keep active," said Florence McSween, president of the Georgia chapter of American Gold Star Mothers and a keynote speaker during the luncheon. "We find that being around other Gold Star Families comforts us. It just makes such a strong bond. Being here today with each one of you has really helped me this Gold Star Mother's Day."
McSween said she hopes to see a chapter of the organization form soon locally.
Another "magnificent" source of support, she said, for Families of fallen Soldiers is Survivor Outreach Services. SOS provides support counseling, education on benefits and finances, and resource information on area agencies and how they can help.
"What we're trying to do with Survivor Outreach Services is to support you in any way we can," McMaster said. "We are a Family. Our Army's a Family. We're bound together with respect and a common experience, with our commitment to service and with our dedication to each other. Your sons made a real difference in real people's lives. They lived the values that define our armed forces, our nation and our way of life. We are grateful for their service, we are humbled by their sacrifice, and we are privileged to have known them and served alongside them. We always remember our fallen brothers."
After the luncheon, the SOS Center was open for tours, including the Wall of Heroes, which features more than 80 framed photographs of fallen Soldiers. Among these is a picture of Sgt. 1st Class David Salie, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, killed in action in Ba'quaba, Iraq, Feb. 14, 2005.
"We don't call it (Valentine's Day)," said his mother, Patricia Myers, who attended the luncheon Sunday. "We call it -- he died Feb. 14. This way it doesn't ruin the holiday."
Myers said the Kelley Hill Soldier always wanted to join the Army, even when he was a young child. The Family has military service in every generation, she said, dating back to the Civil War, with her youngest son currently serving as a major with U.S. Central Command in Florida.
The Gold Star Mother said she was grateful for the luncheon hosted on Fort Benning.
"We're very appreciative; we really are," she said. "It's good to know that people recognize the sacrifice of our kids. It also gives us a chance to show off our kids. They're not children … but they're our children."
In honor of their sons, each mother received a Gold Star Mothers memorial flag. The mothers, as well as Gold Star Wives in attendance, were also given a yellow rose in memory of their lost loved one.