Jack’s Journal: Gold Star Mothers of Northern Michigan

Memorial Day is when a grateful nation remembers those who gave their lives for their country.

On it, Starla Owens remembers her son, Army Specialist Joe Lancour, who was killed in battle in 2007. She said he loved being a paratrooper. 

“For me, Memorial Day is a solemn holiday,” she said. “It has a totally different meaning to me,”

Vickie Hays’s son, Marine Sgt. Justin Hansen, was also killed when his team found the bomb maker they were searching for. That was in 2012.

These moms say time only mends wounds, it doesn’t heal them.

Both ladies are members of the Gold Star Mothers, a designation given to moms & families who have lost a loved one to war.  Now they are on a mission of their own—to place a statue dedicated to GSM families in the Veteran’s Memorial Park in Traverse City.

The statue depicts a mom moments after she receives the burial flag. Owens said the “unbearable” grief depicted in the statue is shown by the mother sitting rather than standing.

“It shows the reality of the mothers, and the grief and the burden that they carry of losing a child in war,” she said. “And they are not only carrying the burden of their own (grief), but the burden of all the mothers that have lost.”

Hays said the statue is hard for her to look at.

“It’s really hard to look at for a (long) period of time,” she said.  “I do it in short pieces, but I’m happy to show pictures to everyone. You look at it for me. I think it speaks to the emotion, to the grief of a family.”

The statue will be dedicated on September 24th, National Gold Star Mother and Family’s Day.  On that day, the Veteran’s Memorial Park will set a permanent place for the mother statue.

GSM is still short of its fundraising goal and is asking for donations.

Hays said she has a lot of appreciation for the park the statue will be in.

“The (Traverse City) Veterans Memorial Park does a really good job of showing memorials for those fallen,” she said. “The mother’s statue I think brings to life the families left behind.”

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