|FORT LEE, Va. – Seven local military families whose loved ones died while on active-duty service are sharing their stories during this weekend of national remembrance.
Sunday is Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, an annual observance in the United States that falls on the last Sunday of September. It is a day to remember surviving military mothers and families and honor the legacy of their loved ones who died in service to our nation.
Each family wrote a letter this summer capturing their thoughts, emotions and hopes for the future; intended to be read by Americans who have yet to be born. The original signed letters were sealed in a time capsule during Fort Lee’s Centennial celebration July 10, ensuring the memories of their fallen heroes live on when the capsule is opened in the year 2117.
The authors of the letters all agreed to allow their publication in honor of Sunday’s observance. Following are links to the letters with an excerpt from each:
- 1st Lt. Jeffrey D. Cooper, U.S. Army
“Jeffrey’s happiness came from making others happy with his smile, which so many people commented on at his funeral. He gave his life so others could enjoy their life, which is what our country is all about: having the freedom to live our lives to the fullest.”
- 1st Lt. Almar Fitzgerald, U.S. Marine Corps
“Almar may not be with us on this earth, but he will forever remain alive within our hearts and the lives he touched…”
- Cpl. Aaron Gautier, U.S. Army
“He became a gentleman at a young age…. a responsible brave young man…. Sometimes, I feel him still poke me in the side when I’m sleeping. I miss my crazy kid, my little man, my brave Soldier.”
- Spc. Richard McNulty III, U.S. Army
“I wish Richard was here for her. Ella will never know his touch. (He will not) be there for her first day of school, high school graduation or wedding day.”
- Capt. Jesse Ozbat, U.S. Army
“Jesse, you have taught me there is no greater freedom than love….to be humble…. and to love without doubt or reservation. What the enemy meant for evil, God can use for good.
- Sgt. 1st Class Chris Souza, U.S. Army
“Chris is and always will be the love of my life. I lost a huge piece of myself and my future when he died. No one should ever feel this or have to live with the loss of a loved one due to veteran suicide. I have vowed to spend every day of my life trying to help raise awareness and help save lives in my husband’s honor.”
- Sgt. Lawrence Sprader Jr., U.S. Army
“Not a day goes by that we do not miss JR. We lost a loving son, his brother lost his best friend, and his nephews lost their uncle. We often wonder what his wife and children would be like.”
Fort Lee will help its Gold Star Families share their poignant letters over the weekend via social media at www.facebook.com/ArmyFortLee.
Visit www.army.mil/goldstar for more information about Gold Star families.
News media may contact Sarah Gauvin at (804) 734-6965, (804) 400-7273 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule interviews with Gold Star Family members today or Saturday.