KINGWOOD, W.Va. (WBOY) — On the last full weekend of September, Camp Dawson hosts an annual gold Star Families Retreat. Topping off the last day, Sunday, with special events in observance of the nationally recognized Gold Star Mother’s and Families Day.
Gold Star Families are military families who have lost a loved one in service to their nation. Families typically wear a blue star to show that their loved one is serving, which is then changed to gold if the loved one is killed while serving.
Gold Star Families preceded the American Gold Star Mothers, which was officially made a non-profit in 1928. In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the last Sunday of September as National Gold Star Mother’s Day and in 2011 President Obama amended the day to include families.
This year, families from West Virginia and Pennsylvania came to represent more than 40 fallen service members across every branch of the military. No matter when their loved one died or how long it has been, all Gold Star families were welcome.
Some of the events included a suicide awareness walk, therapy dogs, archery and spending time with horses. There was also painting, wine glass decoration and the opportunity for family members to see the type of aircraft or equipment their loved one may have worked with.
Martha Minter, the Red Barn Stables Co-Owner who helped with the horses station said, “they help us stay present because they’re very now and so we humans it’s not that we get tripped up with the past and worried about the future and sometimes we forget to stay present forces help remind us to do that and that’s why they can be so helpful.”
12 News spoke with Janie Richardson, a member of West Virginia Gold Star Mothers who lost her son almost 18 years ago. “Not everyone can understand that you lose that part of you but everyone here has lost that same part of them,” she said.
Richardson is not alone in her grief of losing her son and at Camp Dawson, the annual Gold Star Families retreat aims to bring all those who have forever lost that part of them together.
Although all of the families were led to the retreat through unwanted circumstances, they were all able to find support with one another.
After losing her son, Richardson continues to give back to the military community as part of the Gold Star Mothers West Virginia Chapter.