Why an Evening Honoring Gold Star Families?
We are Jewish War Veterans. We are charged with the obligation and duty to remember all who gave their lives in defense of the United States of America. To all of these service people and to their families, we wish to say, “Thank you!” Most especially we wish to express our gratitude to the families of all who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is our Mitzvah of Memory.
On Saturday, February 18th, 2017, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America Foundation (JWVF) held its third annual fundraiser event, this year to honor Gold Star families.
Our fallen heroes made the ultimate sacrifice while on active duty in the US Armed Forces, and it is because of them that we enjoy our freedoms in this country. Their Gold Star families may not have enlisted, but they also served. They have also sacrificed, and it is a designation they never asked for and never wanted.
The term ‘Gold Star family’ comes from the Service Flag first flown by families of those who served during World War I. The flag displayed a blue star for every immediate family member serving during any period of war. If that loved one was killed, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. Anyone who saw the flag would know the horrific price the family paid in the name of freedom.
These families are the one who must fight to pick up the pieces after a loved one is killed in action. They ban together, offer each other comfort in times of sorrow and support in times of need.
We gathered to honor them, and their sons, daughters, husbands, and wives. A majority of the proceeds from this event will be donated to Gold Star family organizations, who offer a wide range of support programs and initiatives ranging from transition assistance to grief counseling to scholarships.
We were also joined by the Armed Forces Color Guard to present the Colors at the beginning of the evening. The United States Marine Band Brass Quintet, who played patriotic music during the cocktail hour followed by a medley of the anthems from all service branches and the Gold Star Family anthem.
Prior to dinner, attendees watched a short video created by the National Museum of American Jewish Military History based on an interview with Beth Agami, whose son SPC Daniel J. Agami was killed in 2007 while serving in Iraq. After, all Gold Star family members in the audience were asked to speak about fallen loved ones. It was a touching and emotional evening.
We are honored that Mrs. Karen Kelly was our keynote speaker. Her son, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed by a roadside bomb during a foot patrol in 2010. Mrs. Kelly and her husband, Secretary of Homeland Security General John F. Kelly, chose to channel their grief into something positive to
honor their son. A Gold Star family, they created the First Lieutenant Robert Kelly Memorial Scholarship in 2011.
She spoke about her own experiences growing up in a military family, marrying a member of the military, and raising a family that moved constantly due to relocations and deployments. She described the feeling becoming the base mother when the units were deployed, how the families would work together, meet regularly, and offer support. Her descriptions of her son and his love of country resonated with everyone in the room, many of whom had lost a loved one during war.
We are grateful to our donors, sponsors, and attendees for joining us and supporting this worthy cause. Because of you, JWVF donated $5,000 each to Gold Star Wives, Gold Star Mothers, TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), and the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation’s First Lieutenant Robert Kelly Memorial Scholarship. Representatives from each of the aforementioned organizations were in attendance, and were honored for their dedication and sacrifice.