Gold Star families find healing at Tri-Cities Time of Remembrance
WEST RICHLAND, Wash. - Gold Star families from all over the Pacific Northwest gathered in the Tri-Cities this weekend for the 11th annual Time of Remembrance.
Sunday's ceremony in West Richland wrapped up a weekend of events the Time of Remembrance organization put together to honor the families of those fallen in the War on Terror.
Guest speaker and Former Ambassador Ryan Crocker said the event in the Tri-Cities leads the country when it comes to reaching out to those left behind after suicide. A group of survivors he said is too often forgotten,
"Time of Remembrance is leading the nation in outreach to suicide. Some of the first-time folks, you can see they're fragile. They've been carrying a horrific burden."
Organizers hope that burden became a little easier to carry this weekend.
Board President Charlie Corbin said they want to honor all families who have made the ultimate sacrifice,
"Whether it was killed in action, after they got home from their injuries, or from suicide. Unfortunately, at the moment suicide is entirely too prevalent."
Corbin said making all Gold Star families is necessary,
"They feel so alone sometimes. And especially our gold star families of suicide feel like they're on the outskirts of things."
Sunday's ceremony was both inclusive and emotional. The names of 350 Pacific Northwest casualties, soldiers lost in battle or to suicide, were read.
Their faces were also displayed on banners for all to see.
Kim Cole's son Darrel was a marine on his second tour in Iraq when he was killed in action in 2007,
"They say it never gets better, it gets different. You miss them every day."
Cole started the Fallen Heroes Banner Project to help other families in their grief, even as she came to terms with her own loss,
"For a lot of family and friends its like 'It's been a year. It's been two years. Get over it, move on' but that's something that's never going to happen for any of us."
"There's no brave face going on. When these events happen, especially when it's all the families together, that's when we really get down to the nitty-gritty and can talk about our stories. It's kind of like they're our battle buddies."
Corbin said she hopes events like this remind folks to honor military members,
"Reach out, reach out to any veteran. Especially any veteran that's showing signs of depression."
Ambassador Crocker said the inclusive nature of the Tri-Cities event is going to make a difference,
"I think you're saving some lives out here frankly."
Cole said our event is one of the only two where all 350 banners from the Fallen Heroes Banner Project are featured together.
From here they'll be re-distributed to the families to be displayed in their local parades and memorials.