What is a gold star?
The gold star is worn by someone who has lost an immediate family member killed in action defending our country.
Let me make it personal so it will resonate like it should.
Margy Bons, president of Operation Homefront of Arizona, lost her son, Michael Marzano, a Marine, in 2005. After she read the article Gold Star Families Feel Disconnected, published in USA Today this week, she reached out to Jane Horton, who is featured in the article. Her response will hit you at your core.
After 6 years, I can still feel so weak. As a Gold Star mom, it pains me to witness a new member. Tell Jane that what she talks about is what we walk through once receiving “the knock” on the door. My knock came on Mother’s Day.
I was told my son, Michael, was not viewable at the funeral home. His battle buddies said he had a cut on his head and damage to his right leg. They were trying to protect me. It was 2 years later that I found out that we did not get all of him back as he was blown up. I kicked, screamed and threatened that they would have to put his casket on top of me unless I viewed something. I got to see his left hand. He was my boy who had given up going to the 2000 Olympics as a Heavy Weight boxer to be a Marine. He had boxing hands, so I knew it was him.
I had friends for 15 years that left me shortly after my “knock.” They couldn’t handle the “new and different” Margy. That is one of the most painful outcomes of this. If I am left during the most horrendous time in my life, how can I trust friends again?
Michael’s items trickled in. I got letters from his comrades expressing their grief of his loss. He was missed. He was a clown who kept everyone laughing. Some still stay in touch and will call me on Mother’s Day. They just want me to know they are not forgetting. Those calls are priceless. He is not forgotten.
No one wants to be us. I don’t want to be us. I work through it. I don’t wear my pin much because sometimes I don’t want to be that mom and I don’t want to explain. It can be very painful. I wear it for special occasions and when I feel strong. Tell Jane it is a long walk but if she can do it with the mission of supporting her loved one’s legacy, it makes it bearable.
There is a VA Outpatient Clinic named after my son in Hermitage PA. That was a feat but worth the efforts. We must never forget.
I also worked on a bill to prevent people from profiting by using the names of the fallen on merchandise without permission from the families. While this passed and the Governor signed it, it was immediately overturned in court by the ACLU as a violation of the Freedom of Speech rights. Our constitution was upheld although it was a painful reality. This made me realize that our fallen did not die in vain.
Please express my sympathies to Jane and, when ready, there are books that help those of us that must continue on even after receiving “the knock.” Also, let her know she can call if she wants.