USS KIDD dedicates annual Remembrance Ceremony to Gold Star Families

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In the flurry of Memorial day sales, outdoor fun and movie premieres, some believe the meaning of Memorial Day has gotten lost.

That's why the focus of this year's Remembrance Ceremony at the USS KIDD was on Gold Star Families.

Gold Star Families are ones who have lost a family member in military service.

"When someone joins the military, their family, their mother, their father, their siblings become Blue Star mothers, Blue Star fathers, Blue Star siblings, Blue Star wives. If the unfortunate happens and if they are lost during the time of their service then those Blue Stars turn gold," explained Tim NesSmith, the USS KIDD Ship Superintendent.

To put this holiday in perspective, a Gold Star Father was asked to speak about what Memorial Day now means to him.

"There was a time in my life Memorial Day was a good day to be off of work and barbecue," said Reverend Walter Mixon. "June 2008 Memorial Day changed for us and it has ever since. It has a greater significance for us."

June 1, 2008 around 7:15 a.m. is the moment the meaning of Memorial Day changed for the Mixons. That was the moment they received the call that their son, Cpl. Justin Ray Mixon, died while serving in Iraq.

"It was a very devastating time and as we look back almost 10 years later it's still a devastating time. But it brings us great honor to know that our son's life was not wasted. It was given freely in defense of our nation and the freedom that we enjoy," Rev. Mixon said. "As was the lives of so many countless others, and to them and their families we owe a great deal. To them and their families we owe more then we can ever repay."

Many others came to the ceremony to honor the thousands of fallen service members from Louisiana. There are about 7,000 of them and each of their names are engraved on the walls of the Louisiana Memorial Plaza.

"I just really felt compelled to come out today and honor those who sacrificed all so that we could be free." said Suzanne White, an attendee. "My dad is 93-years-old and is a World War II veteran and he's still going. I do it to honor him as well even though he hasn't passed yet just for his service and for all those who have sacrificed so much."

But the significance of this day needs no reminder for those who served the country and came home, knowing others couldn't because they paid the ultimate sacrifice.

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