Washington, D.C. September 23-25, 2022
Veterans Memorial Foundation Board member Sarah Taylor, who is also the 2022 National President of the American Gold Star Mothers, invited the Foundation Board to a phenomenal weekend in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Gold Star Mothers. Ken Christopher, President of the Foundation Board, and Greg Hoodenpyle, Board Member, and his wife Kim, were able to attend. It was a remarkable, and very emotional weekend spent with the most incredible group of women –all of whom have lost a son or daughter due to war.
The weekend was especially poignant because the theme was “Veteran Suicides.” This is a little-known phenomenon but one of such importance — some 22 Veterans a day – yes, a day — take their own lives. The Gold Star Mothers coined the word “Suisilence” which represents the fact that Veteran suicides are not discussed or talked about, but certainly need to be. The Gold Star Mothers want to bring Veteran suicides to the forefront in an effort to confront the problem and effect a solution.
The weekend included a 2.2 mile walk, designed to bring attention to Veteran suicide, starting at the Lincoln Memorial, to the Washington Monument, and ending at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Along the walk wreaths were placed and names of some casualties of war and suicide were read especially noting the name of the son or daughter of the Gold Star Mother who placed the wreath and read the names at each memorial or monument on the path around the reflecting pool. These were, in order, the Lincoln Memorial; the Korean War Memorial; the World War I Memorial (to those who died from Washington, DC; the Washington Monument; the Jefferson Pier Stone; the World War II Memorial; the Signers Memorial; the Vietnam Women’s Memorial; the Three Servicemen Statue (Vietnam); and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (the Wall). Ms. Taylor honored Ken Christopher by asking him to join her in laying the wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Other ceremonial events included watching the Changing of the Guard and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery Speeches in Arlington were given by Sarah Taylor, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Mark A. Milley, our nation’s highest ranking military officer, and keynote speaker General George B. Price (USA Retired). Other very noteworthy dignitaries present at the event were Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis R. McDonough.