Gold Star Day In North Central Florida
GAINESVILLE - Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet have named the last Sunday of every September as "Gold Star Day" in Florida and President Obama did the same for the nation. It's all in honor of families and the mothers who have lost their sons or daughters during America's wars. Despite the official recognition, it is no different than any other day for the Gold Star Mothers and families of North Central Florida.
A club no one wants to be part of due to the circumstances, as everyone at the American Gold Star Mothers organization has lost a loved one at war. "You know, we've been a military family... I was in the navy and coast guard, my father was in world war I and world war ii and his father before him was in the military all the way back through the civil war," said Arthur Campbell Sr. His son, Sergeant Karl Campbell lost his life in Afghanistan three years ago.
Audrey Campbell Arthur’s wife says the is the common bond that brings these families together. "Being with other women that are going through the same thing you're going through, no matter how many years it’s been, it's all the same and you can comfort one another," Audrey Campbell said.
Like Sergeant Campbell, Staff Sergeant John Reiners also paid the ultimate sacrifice. His mother Ronna Jackson decided to bring a chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers" to Gainesville, to help others like her cope with the pain. Every month, the group meets at the American Legion Post 16, in Gainesville. "We just really want everyone to keep our heroes' memories alive. We want everyone to know that freedom isn't free, there is a price for it," Jackson said.
President Barack Obama recently proclaimed Gold Star Day for the nation, not only in honor of the mothers who bear the enormous burden of loss, but also for the families. Something the sister of Sergeant Campbell from Chiefland, Tina Thomas appreciates. "No other time during the year does any other part of the family get any recognition. Not that we are begging or asking to be recognized, but just to have the feeling," Thomas said.
Another family, the Berkys tell me their son staff Sergeant Bryan Berky, died doing what he loved most, giving them some consolation. "Nobody understands except for another gold star family... Nobody really gets it because we don't have someone we can be angry with," this fallen soldier’s mother, Sonya Berky said.
For these families their gold stars aren't just pinned to their chest but forever engraved in their hearts.
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