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Archive for July, 2010

Gold stars aren’t necessarily a good thing in the military community. Yes, they can mark a high rank, but they also symbolize the ultimate sacrifice.

Gold Star Wives of America is a venerated group that no one wants to join. It’s composed of widows and widowers of service members killed on active duty or due to service-related disabilities. It was founded in 1945 by widows from World War II.

Then there’s Gold Star Families. They’re part of Families United, a nonprofit support group for families of fallen service members. Again, a club no one wants to qualify for, but one that is deeply appreciated by its members.

This weekend (July 23-24, 2010), Families United is honoring the families of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan with the second annual Weekend of Remembrance. There will be a dinner where families will share their memories of their loved ones, a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and a trip to Six Flags to end the solemn celebration on a lighter note.

And after the weekend ends, these families can stay connected through the new National Gold Star Families Registry. This online resource includes a social network for families, a searchable database of service members killed in the line of duty and a tribute page where the public can pay homage to the fallen.

Here’s a case where the gold star is a shining example for the rest of us on how we can support our military families.

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By Special Guest Blogger L. Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs

I know what it’s like to train, to dig deep, to push yourself harder than you’ve ever pushed before. I’ve served in Iraq. I’ve come back from devastating injuries. I’ve run for office.

I’ve also competed in marathons. I finished the Chicago Marathon in 2:26. It’s hard work across the board. You change your diet, your exercise routine, your whole life.

And if you’re running for Team Operation Homefront in the Marine Corps Marathon, you’re doing it with purpose and for a great cause. This year, you’re running with Kimberly Ruiz to honor the memory of her husband.

You’re raising money to help military families in need. You’re raising money to raise awareness of the challenges those families face in service to our country. You’re running to set an example.

With every step forward – both literally and figuratively – you’re part of something bigger. I encourage you to stay strong and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll be better for it.

Good luck.

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