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BECKLEY, West Virginia – A group of West Virginia mothers gathered at Beckley VA Medical Center to decorate a tree meant to honor the lives of those lost in service in the United States Army.

The Gold Star tree, decorated by the Gold Star Mothers

“Being able to place and decorate a Gold Star tree, to honor our sons and daughters, is so special. The Beckley VA is a beautiful tree that helps Gold Star families honor their children as well as educate about Gold Star, ”said Shirley White, President of the West Virginia Gold Star Mothers Association.

Only a small group met on Saturday morning to ensure the safety of the occupants of the building. The group included Enterprise’s Mariah Kegley, who is a sponsor of the West Virginia Gold Star Mothers, two 5K assistants they sponsor, the Voluntary Service Office, and Gold Star Mother Terry Cunningham.

“Being able to do that and display our children’s photos on a decorative tree means honoring them and their ultimate price paid. Hopefully people will stop to admire the tree and then say the names. This is what makes us mothers feel proud. By saying a name, our child is not forgotten, ”White said.

A plaque commemorating the lives lost next to the Gold Star tree

The tree stands in the waiting area of ​​the Beckley VAMC emergency service. It was decorated with flags and “Honor and Remember” ornaments with the photograph, name, branch served, and rank of each member of the service. The entire height of the tree was adorned with gold and red ribbons.

“The brotherhood we live in also gives us a warm feeling. We understand each other and communion becomes friendship. It’s always an emotional day, but we leave feeling like we’ve accomplished something for our children, ”White said.

West Virginia Gold Star Mothers also helps Veterans throughout the year. This includes helping veterans pay monthly bills, collecting supplies for the homeless, supporting the Healing Waters Project, supporting the Honor and Remember Flag Ceremony, and helping with Wreaths Across America programs. statewide.