In an emotional ceremony Sunday, families of fallen service members gathered at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific to honor their lost loved ones.
Attendees placed lei at the foot of the Lady Columbia statue and the boots of their fallen relatives.
Organizers said the ceremony was a way for families to not only pay tribute to the fallen heroes, but also to honor their relatives.
Gold Star families say the ceremony helps them heal.
“It’s like they’re here with them. And the boots have their photos, the name of their loved one, and they can dress the boots with whatever they like,” said Catherine Ignacio, a Gold Star wife and the coordinator for Survivor Service Outreach.
“Whether it’s a lei, a commemorative medal, whatever it may be to know that the boots are then carried with them wherever they are.”
The term “Gold Star” began during World War I, when families displayed flags bearing a blue star for each family member serving in the military.
Families would then stitch a gold star over the blue star if that family member died in service.
That recognition continues, and families say it’s helped them to develop a community of support to deal with their grief.
“Grief is a roller coaster and is definitely one that we never experienced but when we know that we have this community of surviving family members, of Gold Star family members that are here to support us, it’s a very healing process,” said Ignacio.