Shreveport family featured in 'Gold Star Pin' Super Bowl PSA - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Shreveport family featured in 'Gold Star Pin' Super Bowl PSA


A Super Bowl ad that aired Sunday night was different than your typical ad, it was a public service announcement that honored fallen soldiers and their families, including a Shreveport family that lost their son in Iraq.

The PSA which ran in the hour leading up to the Super Bowl XLVIII kick off on Fox, is one of three public service announcements planned for over the next year to increase awareness of DoD-issued gold star and next-of-kin lapel pins, according to the Gold Star Pin organization.   
Shreveport resident Renee Britton can be seen in the public service announcement that aired Sunday, "We're bringing awareness to the gold star, to the sacrifice and what it means."
The Britton family received the pin after their son, Sgt. Bernard Sembly, died in Iraq in 2005. "He was a real good man, he didn't meet a stranger, he was everyone's friend. He would help anyone," said Renee's husband, Frederick Britton. 

It's a pin that no family wants, but for the Brittons, it unites them with other families, dulling the ache of losing a loved one.  "That is so important because we are really a family of our own, we are our own support crew, so I would say it's very helpful," said Renee Britton.
That's why the Britton's were thrilled when Army Survivors Outreach Services or better known as S.O.S. chose them to fly out to California a few years ago to be a part of the filming of the PSA. "I feel honored that's the best way to describe it," said Renee Britton.

"It's heartbreaking to think that a mom wearing a gold star might have someone ask her, ‘What a beautiful pin, where do I get one?'," said Donna Engeman in a press release, she's a gold star wife who manages the Survivor Outreach Services program for the Army. 

"We decided we had to do something to ensure the nation—the world—recognizes what that 
pin really signifies," Engeman said. 

This year, Gen. Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army, directed IMCOM to develop a campaign to inform America of the significance of this symbolic gold star pin. 

"We're committed to our survivors," said Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, IMCOM commander in a statement. "We owe it to them to ensure they get the support and service they deserve for as long as they need it." 

"Educating the public on the meaning behind the gold star pins is simply another way to reaffirm to our survivors that we understand and honor the sacrifices they've made for our country," Ferriter said. 

The PSAs consist of documentary-style interviews and narrative stories from real survivors who 
volunteered to be a part of the project. The voice-overs were provided by Academy-award nominated actor Gary Sinise. 
"Nothing can change what happened, but it makes us feel good that the Army stays in touch with us and invites us to different organizations and meetings," said Frederick Britton.
SOS flew Renee out to New York City with others that were a part of the PSA as part of the military appreciation week, during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. "There's a lot of love and appreciation being shown toward the gold star," said Britton and explained the NFL has given the survivors the all-star treatment.

But the trip isn't just about fun, it's also about raising awareness and educating others about the gold star pin, so other families like them, can find the same comfort they have through the program. 

 The gold star family legacy began more than 90 years ago when gold star pins were given to families of men killed in World War I.

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