Sponsors of the area’s observance of National Gold Star Mothers Day ran into some difficulty in identifying the women to be honored – those who have lost a son or daughter serving on active duty in one of the military services of the United States.
“We haven’t had the response we hoped for,” says Sharon Russell, past president of Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina. Invitations were mailed to several known Gold Star Mothers in Horry, Georgetown, Florence and Marion counties. Only four accepted the invitation to attend the recognition ceremony at Moose Lodge 1959 on Burcale Road, Myrtle Beach. As of Tuesday, others were still considering. “Some may not know what to expect” at the ceremony, Russell says. Some may have concerns about the painful reminder of the lost loved one.
“We want to let them know they are not alone.” Gold Star Mothers will be given the opportunity to speak, but there is no pressure for them to do so. One Gold Star Mother who will talk is Suella Reynolds, who son was killed in a highway crash after he served several tours in combat.
So the search for more Gold Star Mothers continues. If you know a woman who has lost a child in the line of duty, encourage her to contact Russell or Carol Dion. “We have had a very hard time getting the names of the mothers due to privacy issues,” Dion says in an email message to the newspaper. “This service is to show respect and to honor those women who have given our country the ultimate sacrifice … their child.”
At the ceremony Sunday, the mothers being honored will be escorted to their seats by Stephen Tucker of the S.C. Army National Guard. The city of Myrtle Beach will present a proclamation for National Gold Star Mothers Day, which is the last Sunday in September. Other groups participating in the ceremony include Swamp Fox Blue Star Mothers of Pawleys Island and Grand Strand Blue Star Mothers of Little River, American Legion Riders Post 178 (Murrells Inlet) and Rolling Thunder.
Trisha Ludwig of Murrells Inlet, the new president of Blue Star Mothers Coastal Carolina, is pleased with “a lot of support from the community” for Sunday’s ceremony, which she hopes will be an annual event. The Moose Lodge is donating the use of its hall, Food Lion is providing a large cake and the Horry-Georgetown Technical College culinary program is providing refreshments, as is Polka Dots on S.C. 544. Ludwig became a Blue Star Mother after her son Michael enlisted in the Army. He is stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, with the 69th Air Defense Artillery Battalion.
Russell continues to coordinate Operation Welcome Home, which greets returning combat veterans. The other day, several greeters at Myrtle Beach International Airport were disappointed not to see the serviceman they had expected – he had taken an earlier flight. The welcoming events were started by Kris Tourtellotte who founded the Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center in Little River.