Gold Star families gathered in the Southern California city of Irvine on Sunday for the unveiling of the expanded Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial, which recognizes and memorializes the soldiers who have died defending the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.
The Los Angeles Times reports: “Ten Gold Star families … held hands, they prayed and they revealed nightmarish memories of learning about the deaths of their loved ones — openly sharing so that they can continue to heal.”
A crowd of about 300 gathered for the ceremony. The memorial has been expanded each year.
The memorial’s website explains:
This is the nation’s first memorial dedicated exclusively to listing the names of all the fallen American service members in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Since 2003, a simple memorial for the country’s military fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq was set up in the Southern California city of Irvine by members of the community on the week before Memorial Day and then removed the week after Independence Day. For years the community and visitors from all over the country have come to share in the fellowship at the site of the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial.
The names of every service member who has died in Afghanistan and Iraq had been displayed on the wooden posts of the temporary memorial. Now their names are engraved in granite in a permanent memorial, to assure that future generations of Americans will remember and honor them with gratitude as we do today. The panels carry the names of all those who died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
One participant stressed the importance of helping those who died after they returned home, through the ongoing challenge of veteran suicide.
Other ceremonies to remember the fallen will continue throughout California on Memorial Day, particularly at the many national cemeteries across the Golden State, including Bakersfield, Fort Rosecrans, Golden Gate, Los Angeles, Miramar, Riverside, Sacramento Valley, San Francisco, and San Joaquin Valley.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.