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Family of Fallen Military Members Honored at National Cherry Festival

A special ceremony for three Gold Star families was held at the start of the National Cherry Festival This morning.

A Gold Star family is one who’s loved one was killed while serving their country. The ceremony was put on by Honor and Remember Inc., with the help local VFW and American Legion Posts.

“It’s a club you don’t want to belong to but you’re part of it,” John West says.

John lost his son, Staff Sergeant Matthew West, in 2010 in Afghanistan. Being honored today was a surprise.

“My daughter Christine asked us to be here, along with Carrie, another Gold Star mother, because she was receiving a flag from Honor and Remember and wanted some support,” he says. “So of course, as a fellow Gold Star parent, we just said sure no problem.”

But to be honored along with others is truly something special.

Leroy Paige, director of the Michigan Chapter of Honor and Remember, says the ceremony had symbols that represent elements of the flag.

“The elements presentation and the flag presentation, there’s a lot of people who don’t understand what Honor and Remember is doing,” Leroy says. “So the elements presentation brings out the understanding of the symbols of the flag.”

John said the honor can be a difficult on to receive.

“It’s always a difficult situation because you miss your child, you rather he be with his wife and children,” he says. “But at the same time, it feels good to know that the people of this community and the people at Honor and Remember and elsewhere are doing everything they can to honor and respect what your child did.”

To have the moment during National Cherry Festival on Independence Day makes it that much more memorable.

“Independence is a great day to let the citizens of every community in this country recognize that the cost of freedom the price of freedom is not free, and it comes with a price,” Leroy said.

This is just one of the many ceremonies Honor and Remember host all over the country all year long.