Children of fallen service members recognized in Mississippi

Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 9:24 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The children of fallen service members are called Gold Star Children, and they’re now being recognized in Mississippi. That recognition brings relief and is helping heal years of pain.

On Thursday, Diane Moore was joined by fellow Gold Star Children at Jones Park in Gulfport. Moore read a proclamation from Governor Tate Reeves declaring August 1st Gold Star Children’s Day in Mississippi.

Moore lost her father in Vietnam, his body was never recovered and the pain never goes away.

“Having this Gold Star honors my Father, but I don’t want it,” Moore said. “I would be glad to give it to anybody if they could bring my dad’s remains home. I don’t want it, but it’s given to us to show us that he died with honor and valor.”

The Gold Star program helped connect Moore with Rhonda Cody. Her father, the name sake for Cody Hall at Keesler Airforce Base was also killed in Vietnam. Cody says she could have used a relationship years ago with others facing the same obstacles that come with being Gold Star Children.

“If I had known Diane back then and we could have bonded back then, I think we could have shared and opened up so much more,” said Cody.

Bethany Henderson is a high school student in Ocean Springs. Gold Star Children’s Day comes on the four year anniversary of the death of Henderson’s father.

“Whenever I heard that they made this a thing and it was on August 1st, I was like wow it’s meant to be, which was nice,” Henderson said. “Whenever everything first happened I didn’t want to tell anybody or say anything because I didn’t want people to look at me different, I don’t want people to see me and say her dad died because that was a fear I had. As I started getting older I realized that there’s more of us out there, so maybe this isn’t something I should be scared.”

Before Diane Moore saw her father for the last time, she asked him a question, his answer still sticks with her almost 60 years later.

“I wanted to know where he was going and he told me. I asked why and he said to keep the bad people out of our backyard,” said Moore. “At eleven I didn’t know what that meant, where I stand now today at 68 I definitely know what it meant.”

This is the second year Gold Star Children’s Day will be commemorated in Mississippi. Only two states, Mississippi and Alabama formally recognize Gold Star children.

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