Local families honored on Gold Star Family Day

Sunday is Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Family Day in America.

Those who died in combat are being remembered and honored.

There was a special brunch for Gold Star families at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on Sunday morning.

Each family received a Gold Star banner. They had not received one since their loved one died. It was just a way to honor the sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice they made to this country.

20 families held the banners they wish they never had to.

The Gold Star represents a service member killed while on active duty.

Andrea and Harold Pringle lost their son Antwan Walker back in 2005.

“Antwan was full of joy,” Andrea said. “He loved the military. He loved football, and he loved to rap.”

“We have some of his DVDs when he was over in Iraq,” Harold said of his son. “He was making music and making videos. He was also on the football team while he was in Iraq as well.”

Walker was a sergeant in the Army. He was killed in Iraq after being struck by a mortar. He died 11 days before his 23rd birthday.

All the families were reminded of their brave heroes who gave their all for freedom in America.

Junnie Watson and Sue Reynolds helped organize the brunch. They are with First Coast Blue Star Mothers.

Watson’s son is a Navy veteran.

Reynolds is also a Gold Star mother who lost her son while he was stationed at an air force base in Arizona in 2008. He was killed in a hit and run just outside the base.

“What we are doing with these mothers is showing them that their child is still alive to us,” Reynolds said, who is the organization’s vice president. “As long as we say their name, as long as we honor them, their child is not gone in vain.”

“We are presenting the Gold Star to [to the families to] let them know that they are not alone,” Watson said, who is the organization’s president.

It is a group the families never wanted to be a part of, but events like this give them a chance to connect with other families who understand the pain and grief they are experiencing.

Sunday, as hard as it was, reminded them of the courage their loved ones possessed.

“He is up there, smiling down on us, and is very proud on us, that we are still acknowledging the military and his honor,” Andrea said about her son, Antwan.

They are not forgotten.

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