Four families whose children made the ultimate sacrifice were honored by Newport on June 4.
The Newport Artillery Company hosted an event in honor of fallen heroes, held by VFW Post 406, as the city proclaimed the day as “Rhode Island Gold Star Family Day.”
The event was held in honor of Lynn St. Germain-Lundh, mother of Sgt. Brian St. Germain-Lundh, U.S. Marine Corps; Sharon Toner, mother of LTJG Francis L. Toner, IV, U.S. Navy; William Giblin, brother of Sgt. Timothy R. Giblin, U.S. Marine Corps, and Ed and Regina Roberts, parents of Lance Corporal Holly Charette, U.S. Marine Corps.
Remarks were made by host Anselm T.W. Richards, USA Ret., commander of Post 406, Dora Vasquez- Hellner, USA Ret. Rhode Island state commander, and Brig. Gen. Peter B. Zwack, USA Ret. Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano read the proclamation.
“The whole theme is sacrifice and service for those who answered the call,” Richards said. “We recognize, we cannot understand because we can’t, but we recognize what they have gone through and continue to go through, in the sacrifices their loved ones made for their city, state and country in order [for us] to continue to enjoy our liberties.
“They need to be fully recognized,” he added. “The families that were there were very grateful, and glad we had recognized them.”
On May 15, the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter dedicated a Gold Star Monument, commemorating families in the state.
“Woody Williams, a World War II Medal of Honor winner, who was at Iwo Jima, and is still with us at age 100, has made it his final mission to have one of these monuments in every state,” said Richards. “He would have been here for our event, but at the last minute, his doctor said he could not travel.”
Napolitano met with three sets of parents of children who died in Iraq.
“I explained to them that I grew up in the service town of Washington, D.C. with 10 uncles in World War II, and my father made 11,” she said. “All were able to return home. However, a cousin was killed in Vietnam. Sometime after, I was able to speak to his parents and we laughed about when we were younger, and cried because of his untimely death. It stays with you forever.”
Napolitano read a proclamation that explained the gold star, which is a symbolic representation of an immediate family member’s life, with historical precedence from World War I, when a blue star was displayed, representing a deployed family member. “Gold, the most precious of metals, is now the most precious representation of service to our nation, one’s loss of life for many,” the proclamation read.
“Some of the parents stated publicly afterwards that it was important that people not only acknowledge what happened, but to talk about them was also comforting,” Napolitano said. “It was such an honor to be with the parents to honor their children who have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that we enjoy. I hope we never take it for granted, as we see rights taken away from others around the world.