Each year, countless holidays pass with celebration and joy. We look forward to cook outs, costumes, and even gift-giving. Then there are the days, like Gold Star Mother’s Day, occurring on the fourth Sunday in September, which we remember solemnly as a sobering reminder of the ones left behind after the ultimate sacrifice is paid.
For Phyllis Sisson, today marks her second Gold Star Mother’s Day. A day, among many, spent remembering her son, 2nd Lt. Justin Sisson, who died from injuries sustained when an IED exploded during his foot patrol in Afghanistan on June 3, 2013.
To most, Gold Star Mother’s Day passes without notice. For those who have lost, it’s another heartbreaking day that passes without their child.
“As a Gold Star Mother, I know what has been lost. I know what might have been. I hope that sharing my story will let another grieving mother know she is not alone. Others have stood in her shoes. We want to be there to support and keep the memory of our children alive.”
In the time since Justin’s death, communities, families, friends, and even strangers, have joined together in Justin’s memory to remember and honor the precious life behind the uniform.
At Justin’s alma mater, Florida State University (FSU), Students for America’s Military, a registered student organization, created a 5k race in Justin’s honor, with proceeds from the race going to fund an ROTC scholarship set up in his name, to be awarded to an exemplary FSU ROTC cadet.
“He is also being honored by his school district in Overland Park, Kansas, with a Battlefield Cross statue and memorial at his high school. This will be unveiled on Veterans’ Day, November 11, 2014,” Phyllis shared. “We are also working on a stretch of highway in Kansas to be named in his memory.”
Though Gold Star Mother’s Day is a somber one, for Phyllis, it’s a special day to talk about her son.
“We talk about [Justin] all the time. The fear for us all, and that includes all Gold Star families, is that our loved ones will be forgotten. That is unbearable.”
On such a bitter sweet day for our Nation’s Gold Star Mothers, we encourage you to reach out to those who have lost children to war. Even simply sharing gratitude and thanks can bring joy to a quiet day.
“Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear from someone, reaching out to tell us how Justin inspired and touched their life. That is a great legacy and testament to him.”
Even though Gold Star Mother’s Day is not filled with the type of celebration and joy associated with most holidays; the remembrance, honor, and the occasional funny anecdote shared among friends allows this day to become a celebration of life, honor, and memories that will live in the hearts of loving mothers forever.