Honoring those who lost loved ones in line of duty

Previously published in the walton tribune

Dignitaries, along with members of American Legion Post 332, dedicate a new Gold Star marker at Friendship Park in Social Circle. Cassie Jones photo | MAK Photography for the Walton Tribune

The Gateways Garden Club in Social Circle, along with American Legion Post 332, held a dedication ceremony recently for a new Gold Star Memorial Marker in the city’s Friendship Park.

The new marker, which recognizes Gold Star families — those that have lost a loved one in the military during combat — went up last week next to the existing memorial Blue Star marker, which recognizes all those who have served in the military in the community.

The Garden Club, along with parent organization the Garden Club of Georgia, and Post 332 were all present at the dedication ceremony, which saw Mayor David Keener issue a proclamation recognizing the date as Dedication Day for the memorial marker.

Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman was also there as the keynote speaker and he spoke of the vital necessity to recognize those who gave their all in service to their country, but even more to recognize those families who suffered the loss of a loved one in that service.

“I generally don’t speak at veteran event because I get too emotional,” Chapman said. “I’m too close to it.”

Chapman served in the U.S. Marine Corps and said he didn’t feel the burden of the risks he faced in the service until he was on the other end of the equation.

“I never thought anything could happen to me,” Chapman said. “It never affected me while I wore the uniform. Then I had children who served and I didn’t think I would survive it. I had to apologize to my mom to what she had to go through while I was in uniform.”

Chapman said the men and women in uniform do not often get the recognition they deserve.

“I don’t have sports heroes or race car heroes,” Chapman said. “These men and women, these veterans, they are my heroes.”

And he reminded everyone there to remember them, and their families, particularly the Gold Star families who lost a loved one.

“Gold Star families deserve our support,” Chapman said. “It’s vitally important that we remember these families.”

After Chapman spoke, the new Gold Star memorial marker was formally unveiled and a wreath placed before it while the gathered crowd sang “America the Beautiful.”

And then the event ended, but the marker remains, a permanent reminder in Friendship Park of the steep cost of defending freedom and the burden it places on families throughout the community.

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