Hundreds of people gather at Mineola to honor fallen soldiers at GoldStars Tribute Wall | New

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Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Mineola on Saturday morning to honor fallen soldiers during the first-ever GoldStars Tribute Wall in Texas.

Before arriving in Texas, the traveling memorial made stops in states across the country, including Georgia and Florida, but never before in Texas.

When Mineola Mayor Jayne Lankford first heard that the GoldStars Tribute Wall wanted to stop at Mineola, she was totally on board.

“We are honored. We receive the blessing on this. I will tell you… there was not a second of hesitation. We love our patriots, we honor our dead and we are so proud that this wall is up. Mineola, Texas, ”Lankford said.

Wood County Judge Lucy Hebron also gave a welcoming speech at the ceremony on Saturday, which paid tribute to the GoldStar families, also known as the immediate family members of a deceased serviceman. he served in times of conflict.

“Because our county is home to thousands of veterans, I mean close to 5,000 or 6,000 of them, I would especially like to recognize and welcome all of our veterans and their families and thank them for our service to our country, ”she said. noted. “Without our military and their selfless service to our country, we would not be here today and enjoy the freedoms to which we have become accustomed, and in fact, we have become used to.”

Hebron told the story of being from a military family and how much honor comes from being of military origin.

“This wall of tribute is a visual reminder of the need for us to never forget and always remember, honor, respect and thank these fallen heroes and their families for their ultimate sacrifice to our country,” Hebron said. .

Hebron encouraged everyone to remember and honor the fallen heroes not with words or thanks, but with a life worthy of their sacrifice.

“Wherever you are. If you are a man, woman, child in your family, the best way to honor these fallen heroes is to live a life worthy of the sacrifices they made by living a life of honor. , of truth, freedom, justice and the support of the values ​​for which they have so humbly sacrificed themselves “, she declared.

Former American Legion Department Commander Jeff Perkins spoke of a quote: “All gave, some gave their all. “

All the veterans who are here today are all that gave. The golden stars represent those who gave their all. We are here to honor them. We should honor them every day, ”Perkins said.

Perkins said the wall also serves as a tool and encourages attendees to learn more about the heroes who have died.

“Over 7,000 have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. I read the 7,000 stories. I read how each of them was killed or where they were. If you really want to honor our fallen heroes, pick two or three, four or five names, then go home and do some research and find out what these real heroes are, ”he said.

David Mcelroy, director of the Jackson, Mississippi Trail Of Honor, a day 6 stop for Run For The Wall, the largest and longest organized cross-country motorcycle race that promotes healing among all veterans and their families, has said they were set to complete their 32nd year crossing the country, on horseback for those who cannot when the pandemic began in 2020.

As a result, the events were canceled. Mcelroy’s heart was torn, so he created a movement called Flags of Honor. His concept was to get people to throw flags wherever they are across the country and converge in Washington on Memorial Day.

A flag was presented at sunrise at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC on Memorial Day in 2020. That afternoon, Mcelroy visited Illinois and presented the second Never Forget flag at sunset at Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial.

At Saturday’s ceremony, Mcelroy presented these flags to the GoldStars Tribute Wall that were flown over DC and Illinois, called Never Forget Flags.

Twelve new stars were also added to the wall, all of which were used at Fort Hood.

“Look at their names, know their stories,” said John Ring, organizer of the GoldStars Tribute Wall, which was introduced to him in Georgia by friends.

When it was presented to her, it was revealed that the wall had never been presented in Texas.

He made it his mission and began to organize the arrival of the wall in Texas.

“After traveling through the state of Texas and meeting GoldStar families across the country, it is very important to honor and remember the sacrifices made by our brothers and sisters, but also by their families,” he said. he declares. , it means a lot to me and I’m just happy to see so many people coming together to make it happen. “

He introduced the family of Lance Corporal Shane Lee Goldman, who died on April 5, 2004 while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her sister, Misty Goldman and her mother, Jan Manshack, thanked Mineola and Wood County.

“It’s a very special gift,” Goldman said. “Some of you might not really know what it means to have a family member there. It’s hard. When you see your name on something so special, it’s hard. , but over time the harshness and sadness is replaced by pride and you “are actually a little more cheerful and honored to see their name on something like that. That says a lot.”

The GoldStar family shared stories about Goldman, who was only 20 when he passed away. According to his family, there are five other stars on the GoldStar Wall who were with Goldman on the day he died.

“Things like this help us remember. Seeing everyone who shows up be a part of it is what helps us get through it. Shane would be very proud. We are very proud. We are very grateful.” Goldman said.

She said she wouldn’t watch the GoldStar Tribute and be sad, but that she would watch it and be proud.

“His last letter to me, he’s never finished. I still can’t read it. I try, but I can’t. Someday I will, so in the meantime, when I think about things and I am sad like that, I am honored and proud and I choose to remember the joy, ”she said.

She encouraged GoldStar families to find joy and make their deceased loved ones proud and happy for what they have done.

After the ceremony, the GoldStar families had the chance to share the name of their deceased soldier, their branch of service and the date.

More than five families did so with tears in their eyes.

At the end of the ceremony, Goldman’s family presented a wreath. There was also a Quilts of Valor presentation in downtown Mineola on West Commerce Street, near the Veterans Memorial and Gazebo area.

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