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The Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command will unveil a Gold Star flag during a dedication ceremony at Bicentennial Chapel at 6 p.m. Thursday.

This is a service flag, which normally contains a blue star representing a military member’s service to the nation, that is changed to gold upon the service member’s death.

“The Gold Star flag is a stark reminder about the cost of freedom,” Kerrie Branson, Redstone Arsenal’s Survivor Outreach Services coordinator, said. “We have people among us whose lives were changed forever by the loss of a loved one who was committed to serving our country. Having this flag at the chapel reminds members of the community of the sacrifice these families have made.”

The ceremony will include several songs, prayers, the dedication, and a guest speaker, Dave Roever, a wounded Vietnam War veteran.

“I cannot imagine the heartache and loss in a military family when a loved one has given his or her life for our freedom,” Roever said. “The only thing that can exceed their grief is for them to have laid such a costly sacrifice on the altar of freedom and then to feel forgotten, because of the neglect to honor the fallen by honoring and acknowledging the living. Abraham Lincoln called it the ‘solemn pride.’

“Without supporting Gold Star families there is no standard raised to say to families and future military personnel that their possible sacrifice will not be forgotten or neglected. The future is established in the present by our respect for valor through sacrifice. God bless our Gold Star families!”

Gold Star families from 11 counties surrounding Redstone Arsenal will be invited as special guests, but the ceremony is open to the Team Redstone community. Branson said this presentation is meaningful and important to ensure Gold Star families know they will not be forgotten and as a reminder to pray for them.

“The flag being in a chapel is a wonderful thing because it’s a place of prayer, healing and remembrance,” Branson said. “It would be amazing if this became a standard and there was a Gold Star flag in every military chapel in America.”

Bicentennial Chapel is located at 376 Goss Road.

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