Veterans Day is Monday and as we pause to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, we also remember the families they left behind. At a ceremony Sunday ten local families were presented with a very special token in honor and remembrance of their loved ones.
"You never prepare yourself to lose your child," Kathy Disel says choking back tears.
Disel and new friend Jan Altmann may come from two very different circumstances, but they are connected by an unbreakable bond.
"The stories might be very different, but the strength is there, the commitment is there and sometimes the similarities are so incredible," Altmann chuckles.
Both women know what it's like to lose a child in service to our country.
"Joe was doing what he loved to do and died with his boots on if you want to say," Altmann tells NewsChannel 7.
Both Disel's son Robbie and Altmann's son Joe were honored Sunday, as their families were presented with an "Honor and Remember" flag. The flag is a new national symbol of gratitude and respect for our fallen heroes and those they left behind.
"Their [the families] number one worry is they died in vein and they'll be forgotten," Honor and Remember Minnesota Chapter Director Mike LaBelle explains. "This flag is telling them no, that's not going to happen."
For LaBelle, remembering the fallen is personal.
"I get emotional," he says. "I lost nine of my buddies in Vietnam that were with me and that always has a big effect on you."
Walline Sikorski lost her son in a training accident five years ago. She says that while the ceremony was very emotional it was awesome knowing her son is not forgotten.
"Pride. Hurt. It's like a bunch of emotions You can't help but feel a bunch of emotions," She tells NewsChannel 7. "The missing is always there no matter what, but you're proud that he was willing to sign that blank check."
Altmann says ceremonies like Sunday's are always emotional, but a good emotion adding, "Every one of these soldiers, even the ones serving today, give so much It's unfortunate that a handful have to give everything."
"To be a gold star family is what you want to be and you're honored, but it's not a club you wanted to be a part of," Disel says reminding everyone "Never forget to thank a vet, a soldier. They all give something to make our country what it is."
There is currently a bill going through the State legislature that would make the "Honor and Remember" flag the official symbol of our fallen military members and their families. LaBelle tells NewsChannel 7 Governor Walker is expected to sign the bill on November 22nd.
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