Gold Star Children’s Day

| July 31, 2022


Gold Star and Next-of-Kin lapel pins

Last year the Senate ratified the designation of 1 August as “Gold Star Children’s Day” as CDR D is kind enough to remind us. This one slipped by me last year- wonder why, something going on?- so I went to the guru for the gouge. Stand by.

Denise sends:

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Senate has unanimously passed a Resolution. Is it truly Christmas in July, complete with a miracle? Sort of, if we are willing to take any win we can get.

The Resolution designates August 1 as Gold Star Children’s Day. Despite my above snark, this is something to feel good about.

Gold Star Children are those who lost a parent in service to this Nation, and often before they were old enough to develop a memory of that parent. These are the kids who have a photo, a folded flag and a pretty ornament to pin on their clothing, and hopefully, stories of how their mom or dad was a true, American hero. If they are fortunate, they have lots of honorary aunts and uncles, the brothers and sisters of those who served side-by-side with their parent, who share memories of the person they weren’t old enough to get to know.

The impact on these children’s lives is both known and unfathomable. It is my sincere hope they feel the honor their parents’ lives earned, not just the pain of their parents’ absence. With the passage of this long overdue Resolution, perhaps our Nation will help them by recognizing the price these children have paid.

I’d like to share a story of one such child, someone I am humbled to call my friend.

His name is James Presson and he lost his dad in Vietnam. His dad, SSgt. William Paul Presson, Jr was killed on September 23, 1966 in Khan Noa Province when James was 8 years old.

James and his brother grew up knowing their dad because of his hobby as a photographer. There were videos, or home movies as they were called back then, and lots of pictures. James said his dad used the bathtub as a makeshift photography studio to develop the reams of photos. Thanks to this hobby, James also has lots of photos of the nearly 11 months his dad spent in Vietnam.

Both brothers had the desire to serve, to help others and went on to careers in law enforcement. After 30 years as a cop, James learned about the possibility of becoming an LEP. The opportunity to serve and protect the soldiers protecting us all became a burning desire that landed James at the tender age of 51 in Afghanistan.

James believed his job was to do whatever he could to help the soldiers, from carrying extra ammo and medical supplies, going on patrol at every opportunity, to doing whatever the moment required. One such moment stands out above all the others as an outpost in Afghanistan came under attack on November 1, 2010.

Word suddenly spread there were men outside the wire and James jumped into the gator alongside a
soldier and drove into the battle, to recover the wounded. There James and the rest of the FOB found a grisly scene. Two were dead and several others were wounded, and incoming fire was all around. The fight was still raging, and a full telling of the events of that day can be found here “No Man Left Behind”.

That soldier in the gator was Felipe Periera, who received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions that day. As a civilian contractor, James was not eligible for this recognition though it was certainly earned. Yet that is not the most amazing thing James did as a result of that day.

Nearly a year and a half later, James reached out to some of the guys he served with because he wanted to meet the mom of the soldier whose body he helped carry off the field of battle. He needed to tell that mom about what he saw that day, about the honor and heroics he witnessed, about how that day has become the defining moment of his life. Because of the events of that day James extended his contract for another year, spending literally double the amount of time in Afghanistan, in war. At that meeting that was so important to James, he never mentioned how he understood what the term Gold Star meant. Of all the things James did that day in Afghanistan, what he did that day a year and a half later is the single most telling testament of his character.

In case you haven’t guessed, I was that mom. That soldier he helped carry was my son.

When I think of the how the lives of Gold Star Children are too often forgotten, I struggle with both sadness and rage. Because of James Presson, I also feel overwhelming gratitude. Not just to James, but to SSgt. William Paul Presson, Jr. James, I know your dad would be beyond proud of the Gold Star Child you were, and the man you became. I am honored and humbled to know you and so very glad that we are finally recognizing Gold Star Children.

Here’s to you, James and your brother and all the Gold Star Children. On August 1, I will raise a glass to you, and to your heroes.

Thank you, Denise.

Army MWR

In typical fashion Denise thanks CDR D, as do I, for the reminder and the link.

Category: Bravo Zulu, DC Government, Guest Post

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KoB

Can’t understand why it so dusty in here. I herded up my fluffle of dust bunnies just yesterday. This retina leakage must be coming from running the Kub Kay Dette in the front yard…or my recent eye surgery. Yeah, that’s it.

Thank you for sharing this with us, Denise. For many of us, everyday is Gold Star Family/Children Day. And for many of us we have to say…”there but for the Grace of God go us”.

Rest assured, we will say their names…We will be their Witness. And if there’s anything we (I) can do for you or any other Gold Star Member…well…We’re (I’m) not hard to find.

His Blessing be upon you and all of the others.

Denise Williams

KoB- we (I) know you are steadfast, and it is much appreciated.

poetrooper

As always, Denise, you impress with your gentle eloquence in discussing the most difficult of topics. All of us here at TAH are truly blessed by your presence.

Denise Williams

Poe- I beg to differ kind sir, I am the fortunate one to be amongst all of you.

Michael Ski

I had the pleasure to meet Denise when I was a member of Illinois Gold Star parents. She’s aces in my book. She tirelessly advocates for GS families. Thanks for sharing her story about GS kids day. Mike Rudzinski, Gold Star Dad of SSG Christopher M. Rudzinski

Denise Williams

Michael! Thank you for the kind words but you’re mistaken, the pleasure was mine. All the best to you and yours, hope to see you again soon-

Old tanker

Finally, they did something worthy of good note.

CDR D

As a GS son (lost my dad in Korea in 1950 when I was 7), I was pleased and surprised to see they did this.

David

Makes me realize how lucky I am that Dad came home at all, much less largely unscathed. Thanks, Denise.