Loved ones gather at Air Force Museum to honor Gold Star families

WRIGHT PATTERSON — Loved ones gathered Saturday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to honor the lives of people who died serving our country.

>>PHOTOS: Air Force Museum Gold Star Family memorial service

They gathered at the Gold Star Family Monument in Memorial Park to honor those who laid down their lives for the United States of America.

News Center 7′s Taylor Robertson spoke to a couple who wanted to make the sacrifices of Gold Star families are not forgotten.

“We’re honoring all the Gold Stars,” said James Groves. “Not just our son, but all sons and all daughters.”

He spent six years in the Army himself before his son, James, followed in his footsteps. With only a few months until his son was returning home from deployment, he was killed during a training exercise.

“He was six months short of coming home and a year-and-a-half from retirement,” said Groves.

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He told Robertson a person dies twice, the first time when their heart stops beating and a second when their name is said for the last time.

That is why Groves and his wife, Leslie, helped raise money to create the Gold Star Family Monument in Memorial Park on base.

They wanted to keep the spirits of their loved ones alive.

“America owes those young men and women a great debt,” said James.

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Robertson also spoke with a 40-year U.S. Army Colonel, Kathy Platoni.

She said the first thing that comes to her mind when she looks back on her military career is her friendships.

“The willingness to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, as the keynote speaker said, the bonds of friendship that sustain for a lifetime,” she said.

Platoni also pointed out it is important to recognize the sacrifice family members of veterans have to make.

“It’s so isolating because not everybody understands what it’s like to send a family member overseas in time of war to the combat theater, worrying every minute that they’re not going to come back,” she explained. “That’s why we pay tribute with these families.”

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“I think we’re doing a good thing,” said Groves. “I think we’re helping other families. I’m okay with that.”

Robertson says one thing all of the veterans she saw Saturday had in common was how much they appreciated everything the military gave them while remembering everything they lost because of it.

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