Ceremony honors mothers and families of fallen service members

Punchbowl memorial service

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It’s not easy losing a son or daughter, especially if he or she was a casualty of war.

On Sunday, there was a special ceremony honoring the mothers and families of fallen service members.

Lis Olsen’s son Toby was killed in Iraq in 2007. She helped coordinate this Gold Star Mothers and Families Day Ceremony.

“It’s important for us as another way of paying tribute, being together, doing something special in a place like this,” Olsen said.

Olsen’s daughter Tanya says it helps in dealing with the grief.

“We all kind of became one big ohana supporting each other,” Tanya Leiss-Olson said.

As part of the ceremony, they carried the boots to the foot of the Lady Columbia statue.

“Lady Columbia symbolizes all grieving mothers and overlooks this beautiful cemetery where our heroes rest at peace,” Olsen said.

Ceremonies like this one happened all across the U.S. on Sunday.

The last Sunday in September is recognized every year to honor the sacrifice and strength of its Gold Star Mothers and families.

“The name ‘Gold Star Mother’ was derived from the American custom during World War I of families placing a small flag in their home’s front window. The flag featured a star for each family member serving in the armed forces with a gold star honoring the family member killed, while defending the very principles we hold so dearly,” U.S. Army Garrison Col. Daniel Whitney said.

Time doesn’t always heal the pain, but events like this one help keep the memories of their loved ones alive.

“You know brothers and sisters is the longest relationship you have in your lifetime, so that’s of course been really difficult, knowing especially with my son, he’s not going to have an uncle but I feel like with everybody else, seeing what they go through and you never get over it but you never let go and just remember them and make sure everyone else remembers too and that’s all that, that matters,” Leiss-Olson said.

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