VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — On Sunday, families from across the country gathered in Virginia Beach to honor and remember their loved ones who died for our freedom.
The families met at the Founder's Inn for the 12th Annual Gold Star Family Evening ceremony.
Gold Star Family member Kathy Moore honors and remembers her loved one every day.
“I lost my son, Corporal Ryan David Russell, in March of 2007 in Iraq," said Moore.
Corporal Russell was just 20 years old when he died as a combat medic. Moore said the evening was less about his death and more about celebrating his life.
“We just remember the good times that he had, and we can still laugh and smile. Even though we are still sad, we can still laugh and smile at some of the crazy things he used to do," said Moore.
For 12 years, the non-profit Honor and Remember has hosted the Gold Star Family evening for anyone who has lost a loved one who served our country.
The son of the group’s founder George Lutz, Tony, was killed while on patrol in Iraq in 2005.
“Those families will never forget their loss and as everyday citizens, it is important for us to be reminded why we have the freedoms we have every day. It's because of these heroes and the families that raised them and love them," said Lutz.
Moore said she has come to every celebration and has even started an Honor and Remember chapter in her hometown in North Carolina. She wants to make the Honor and Remember flag become part of history.
"I want to see it become a national symbol and fly right alongside the red, white, and blue, so that when people see that they would know that family has lost a person in the line of duty so that they can enjoy the freedoms that they enjoy," she said.
Lutz said on average, the organization presents a flag to a family every day. Lutz also said about 250 families showed up for this year's ceremony.