GROTON, Conn. – Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London honored service members who gave their lives for their country and the grieving families they left behind with a ceremony held in honor of Gold Star Families Day, Sept. 26, 2019.
The Gold Star tradition is one that dates back to World War I when families would hang white flags with blue stars in the window; one star for every family member serving, a gold star if they were deceased. The ceremony was held aboard Historic Ship Nautilus (SSN 571) at the Submarine Force Museum just outside SUBASE, the pioneering boat decked in ceremonial signal flags for the event.
“The grief that a Gold Star Family member holds in their heart is a grief most of us cannot fully know,” said April Tischler, SUBASE New London’s Gold Star Representative, speaking at the ceremony. “But as fellow Americans, we must lend our strength to those families who have given so much for our country. Their burdens are ones that no one should have to bear alone.”
SUBASE New London Commanding Officer Capt. Todd Moore read off the names of fallen service members, submitted by their families, as Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Kalen Oswaldrang a bell in their honor, followed by a moment of silence. Men and women of all branches’ names were read off.
“From the American Revolution to today’s War on Terrorism across the globe, our men and women in uniform have put themselves in harm’s way,” said Moore following the bell’s final toll. “Many have made the ultimate sacrifice. Their actions attest not only to the depth of their devotion, but also to a belief in their country so profound that they were willing to give their very lives for it. Today, we pay solemn tribute to those who made that sacrifice.”
Moore added that the public does not always recognize the element of military care provided for service members and their families.
“According to a Pew Research Survey from 2012, 84 percent of veterans say the public does not understand the problems faced by service members or their families,” said Moore. “An example of that lack of common understanding struck me the other day as I was talking about the topic of leadership with some friends of mine. They were surprised to hear the military’s concern for leadership such as care. Isn’t the military about following orders? No. Leadership is finding out what needs to happen and doing it. It’s about training your relief. It’s about watching out for your shipmate. This care for others is what drives our military’s discipline in training, our excellence in combat and our faithfulness with the fallen.”
Sitting in the front row on the pier were Gold Star families. Also in attendance were military members and veterans, elected officials and members of the local community. Following the ceremony’s completion Moore and Deborah Schurman cut a cake and the Gold Star families posed for a group photo with SUBASE and community leaders.
The Navy Gold Star Program is the Navy’s official program for providing long-term support to surviving families of Sailors who pass away while on active duty.