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NEWS | Sept. 29, 2016

Joint Base Charleston remembers fallen heroes

By MC2(SW/AW) John Haynes Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

All Saints Chapel here was somber and respectful as “Gold Star” families came together with civilians, Sailors and Airmen to remember fallen troops from the Lowcountry September 22, 2016.

Joint Base Charleston is one of many military installations participating in  “Bells Across America” ceremonies worldwide honoring local fallen service members. The event was hosted by Charleston’s Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC).

“Today, we take time to pay tribute to those that gave their lives for the United States and the liberties we have today,” said Angela Cottman, of FFSC.

In June 1936, the last Sunday of September was designated as, “Gold Star Mother’s Day.” In 2009, wives and children of fallen service members were included and it became Gold Star Mothers' and Family's Day. These traditions were the genesis of Bells Across America.

Following the National Anthem, sung by Air Force Senior Airman Khadija Slaughter of 628th Air Base Wing, and an opening prayer, Cottman shared a few words of comfort with the audience.

“We feel loss today, because losing a loved one is never easy,” she said. “But we also can feel comfort in knowing they are in a better place and proudly served this country with honor, loyalty and courage.”

During the ceremony, 67 names of Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Soldiers were read and a ceremonial bell was rung after each service member was named. The ceremony was intimate and brief, but demonstrated that those who died did not die in vain.

“As we come together to reflect and remember these men and women, we carry their legacy forward every day,” said Air Force Col. Richard Mathews, 628th Mission Support Group commander.

The Gold Star program is a DoD-wide initiative providing short and long term support to immediate family members of those lost serving their country in the military. Mathews says it’s important to remember their sacrifice every day.

“Each and every one of them left a mark on Earth and on us. We are truly better people for having known and served alongside them,” he said.