Gold Star Moms honor the fallen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michelle Ferrari
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor the service and sacrifice of our country’s fallen heroes. Left behind are the beloved family members, like the Gold Star mothers that attended the Memorial Day Ceremony held here, May 25, 2023.

Attendance by Gold Star Moms Susan Misener, mother of U.S. Marine Sgt. Garrett A. Misener, Yvette Duchene, mother of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel R. Sanchez, and Sylbia Rivera, mother of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. John P. Porras, show they have not forgotten, and they are determined to carry on the legacy of their children. Their presence serves as a constant reminder of the need to honor and support those who have served our country.

Gold Star Moms is a non-profit national service organization that provides assistance and support to those who have lost a family member to a military service-related death. They serve as a reminder of the true cost of war. Membership comes at a sacrificial price, a price that no mother wants to pay.

“No one ever told me that I would become a member of a club that wasn’t free to enter,” said Gold Star Mother, Yvette Sierra Duchene. “I simply opened my front door and the membership was mine.”

These women are an important part of the fabric of America and hold a special place in the heart of the nation. Their sacrifice and dedication to the country should not be overlooked, and it is crucial that we recognize and honor these brave women.

“Memorial Day is a very emotionally draining day for me,” said Duchene. “I often spend the morning putting red, white and blue pinwheels on my son’s gravesite at Fort Bliss Cemetery. Afterwards, I usually have my family and friends over to my house, for a day of honoring our beloved Daniel and his fallen brothers and sisters in arms.”

On Memorial Day, many Americans throughout the country gather and spend time with friends and family enjoying the freedoms for which others laid down their lives.

“I am able to share Daniel’s story with the younger generation and remind them that freedom isn’t always free,” said Duchene. “It had been paid sacrificially.”

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Ray Sanchez, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, was killed in action on Sept. 16, 2010, in Afghanistan, when his team came under fire from an enemy insurgent. Sanchez was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, the Purple Heart, the Air Force Combat Action Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

Gold Star Moms like Duchene, Misener and Rivera have also been instrumental in pushing for improvements in the care and benefits that are available to veterans and their families. They have fought for better healthcare access, increased mental health resources, and engaged the community through fundraisers, improving support for families after a loss.

“The advice I have for future generations is that life here is not a guarantee,” said Duchene. “Be grateful for all moments and occasions, the good and the bad, that surround you each day. They teach you how vulnerable we are, and we can learn from them and practice gratitude. If we choose to be grateful, we can bless others and be blessed by others. Our hearts and hands are open to serve.”

Gold Star families are a living testament to the bravery and selflessness of those who have given their lives for our country. Their tireless efforts have brought about positive changes and their advocacy has helped ensure that the sacrifices made by servicemembers are not forgotten.

Members from Team Holloman gathered for a short Memorial Day ceremony paying respects to SrA Sanchez, SSgt Porras, SGT Misener, and the countless others who gave the ultimate sacrifice.