A young boy waves a flag from the window of a National Guard vehicle during the Veterans Day parade downtown The Dalles Monday.
Scott Hege/contributed photo
Gary Pratt, president of the Mid-Columbia Veterans Memorial Committee, said having Gold Star parents in the 2013 Veterans Day parade on Nov. 11 brought a time of reflection for many of the organizers.
“As we pay tribute to fallen soldiers on these days we must never forget that they left behind families who will endure the pain of that ultimate price for the rest of their lives,” he said.
“It’s not about how many died in that particular battle or that war but about that one son or daughter whose mother and father have to deal with the loss.”
MCVMC worked with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2471 and Auxiliary to organize Monday’s parade, which had more than 40 entries, and the community potluck that followed at The Dalles Armory.
Two of the four grand marshals were Rick and Nicole Lundin of Goldendale, who lost their only son, Army Cpl. James Lundin, on May 30, 2007. He and three other soldiers were killed after an IED (improvised explosive device) went off under the Humvee they were traveling in through Risalah, a neighborhood in southern Baghdad.
Military families are considered “Gold Star” if their loved one has died in service. The term refers to the color of the star in the middle of an official service flag that is hung in the windows of the fallen warrior’s home.
“Gold Star parents are left to endure the combat death of their sons and daughters. As citizens of this country we all benefit from the sacrifices our soldiers and their families make,” said Pratt. “The least we can do is to stand with our Gold Star parents, treat them with respect and dignity and never forget the sacrifices by keeping the memory of their sons and daughters alive.”
Nicole Lundin thanked the crowd gathered at the armory and citizens who had lined the parade route for honoring her son. She said Gold Star families were “broken” by grief that sometimes made it difficult to fulfill the daily tasks of living so it was healing to have James’ sacrifice remembered by those he protected.
She said it is not uncommon for parents and spouses of a fallen warrior to initially disbelieve news of his or her death. She said that was the case when a casualty assistance officer from the Army delivered the horrific news about James’ death to her and Rick.
He and three other soldiers were killed by a 50-gallon drum of explosives that had been buried in the roadway and was detonated by the passage of the soldier’s Humvee during the third patrol of the day.
“I thought maybe he was away on a secret mission and a mistake had been made,” she said.
Retired USMC Capt. Dan Brophy told the audience at the armory that the parents and spouses who waited and worried at home while their warrior was on the battlefield, and dealt with the traumas they brought home, also needed to be thanked on Veterans Day.
“They are the real heroes,” said Brophy, a decorated Vietnam veteran who was disabled by a bullet from a .50 caliber machine gun.