Naval Base Kitsap held a Bells Across America remembrance ceremony last week, an annual event dedicated to bringing Gold Star families together to honor and remember their loved ones who died while on active duty.
The Navy Gold Star Program is the Navy’s official program for providing support to the surviving families of sailors who passed away while on active duty. Their mission is for survivors to know they’ll be linked with the Navy as long as they desire.
“They keep us informed of events going on in the area, the support services they provide have been really helpful to a lot of people,” Navy Gold Star family member Lee Moberg said. “I think meeting other family members helps us come to terms with the grief.”
Capt. Chad M. Brooks, commanding officer, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest, reminded those in attendance that they are all part of one military family and that their fallen service members will be remembered and honored.
“We gather to remember those we lost, to appreciate the freedoms they preserved for us, to share pride in their service and to honor their surviving family members who persevere with great strength and courage,” Brooks said. “We are all a part of an extended military family. A family where it is safe to grieve, encourage and share memories.”
Naval Base Kitsap officials read the names of fallen service members, and a bell was tolled after each name in remembrance.
“I feel that it’s my one small piece to show my respect for the families that have lost sailors,” Command Master Chief Beau Willis said. “It’s not just sailors that have seen combat or been left overseas, we’ve had sailors (whose) names were read today that passed away on duty due to medical causes.”
“We’ve had sailors that lost their battle with some mental illnesses,” Willis went on to say. “Those families need the respect from all of us because they served us just as much as their sons, daughters, husbands, and wives served us.”