Lighting up memories
The weather was beautiful for the Gold Star Luminary Initiative held Sunday, Sept. 30, in the Veterans Park. Placed on the ground were 60 starred bags with flags and markers with the names of fallen service members who had given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The community was there to not just honor their families, but to also keep their memories alive.
Boy Scout Troop 642 did the Posting and Retiring of the Colors and the Blue Notes under the direction of Carolyn Hutcherson sang a selection of military hymns.
Senator Roger Thompson spoke to the crowd about a few of the fallen heroes and stated nothing could ever replace their loss or ease the pain of their loss. At the end of his remarks he presented a citation from the Oklahoma Senate honoring the Gold Star Families and the Luminary Initiative.
Jean Gawf couldn’t hold back the emotion as she read the meaning of the flag’s folding while the Seminole Nation Color Guard performed the flag folding ceremony and a 21-gun salute.
Travis Sempel then followed by playing “Taps” and the audience had a moment of silence.
Gold Star mom, Shannon Curtis Bollinger, ended the evening with the lighting of the luminaries. She first lit her own son’s candle, PFC Joshua J. Mobbs, who was in the 82nd
“I pray that we all remember the great price that is paid for our freedom.” – Jean Gawf
Airborne. Then she continued with others as they lit up all 60 luminaries. She stated that she was honored to those of light not only Joshua’s candle, but also numerous other fallen service members from Checotah and from various different wars.
Gawf, who put the event together, has a son, LCPL Kyle Gawf, who is currently serving in the Marine Corp stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. She puts together several events each year and works many hours to offer support to military families in the Checotah area.
“It’s important that we never forget about our soldiers, the ones that are still fighting, the ones we have lost, and the families that we need to honor not just one time a year but every day,” Gawf said. “I pray that we all remember the great price that is paid for our freedom.”