Gold Star Mother's Day

In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt declared that the last Sunday of September, henceforth, will be a day of honor to the Mothers who lost their children Soldiers to war.

In 2009, the Patriot Guard Riders were again invited to help honor the families of those who lost their children Soldiers over the last year as they received their Gold Stars from Governor Pat Quinn during a ceremony in Chicago.

Hanging out at the staging area waiting for things to get rolling.

St. Dennis Choir arrives.

Fred gives the briefing...explaining our part in the ceremony.

Gaylene and her husband (so sorry I forgot his name). I met Gaylene at PFC Matthew Martinek's wake on Friday, as she was positioned next to me in the flag stand. Her son is a Marine, like his father who was in Viet Nam in the 60s. They hold their breath waiting to hear when their son will be deployed.

Time to start the flag line in honor of the arriving gold star families.

Gold star mothers...and families...begin to arrive.

So many wore special memorial shirts in honor of their lost loved ones.

(So heartbreaking as I saw a little boy walking in wearing a shirt saying "My Dad, My Hero" and knowing he'd lost his dad at such a young age.)

A couple members of the Shannon Rovers arrive, who will be performing with drum and bagpipe.

The Governor is arriving...time to move inside.

The choir sings beautiful background songs as people settle to their seats.

The patriot guard riders are positioned along both sides of the room.

Honor Guard brings in the flags.

Governor Quinn takes the stage.

After the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem (lead by Alison Ruble of the Illinois USO), Father Dick Sparks from Old St. Mary's Parish (the Governor's church) leads us in prayer for the soldiers and families.

Dan Grant, an Iraqi vet and Director of Illinois Dept of Veterans' Affairs, relates some touching stories of friends he's lost and the difference is how he will remember them as a soldier and how their mothers will remember them as children.

(Also, as Dan went around the room prior to the ceremony, to thank each PGR for attending, he conveyed to me how impressive our Flag Stand was and how many families told him how much they appreciated the Flag Stand honor guard we provided as they arrived.)

The Governor makes some opening remarks reminding us that we must honor all our soldiers and vets EVERY DAY!

Major General Dennis Celletti, Illinois National Guard, reads the names of the fallen soldiers and the names of their mothers who are escorted by military officers to the stage, to accept their Gold Star from Governor Quinn.

Very heart wrenching! The Governor hugged and tried to console each mother/guardian who accepted stars in honor of their loved ones who died in war this past year.

Illinois Poet Laureate, Kevin Stein, wrote a special poem entitled "To Illinois' Gold Star Mothers"...he recites it. Very touching!

Singer, Daniel Bochlas, sings a heartbreaking song (which brought many to tears in the room) called "To Where You Are, You're Still You" all the gold star families are asked to come up, take a red rose and lay it beneath the flag that represents the service of their lost loved one.

Hugs and tears abound in the room.

"Bugles Across America" members perform taps as the Marine 2/24 Infantry retire the colors.

Members of the Shannon Rovers perform as they walk in and then out of the room...ending the ceremony.

Debbie "Boots" and other PGR Officers wait to collect the flags and ensure that all riders safely find their way to depart.

(And...thanks for bringing water bottles, too, Boots!)

Gaylene, hubby and Ron, prepare to depart (and safely get out of my way) so I can move out that way, too. (my bike in shot, w/parade flag). Nice seeing ya all...ride safe!

To all the Gold Star mothers...and families...our hearts are with you!

Dian D. Chapman
Technical Consultant, Microsoft MVP
MOS Certified Instructor, Editor/TechTrax Ezine
Tech Editor for Word & Office 2007 Bibles

Patriot Guard Rider & Soldiers' Angel


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