Gold Star families are those who have lost a loved one while that family member was serving actively in the military.
The public memorial will take place on Saturday at the veterans’ Wall of Honor and a private ceremony will occur at the Veterans’ Museum, both located at Heritage Park in McDonough, at 1 p.m.
The public ceremony will include keynote speaker and military veteran Judge James Chafin and music provided by residents of the Fort Gordon military base in Augusta.
Spokeswoman Melissa Robinson said the event offers “fellowship and support to by joining others who have felt a similar loss.”
The ceremony is sponsored by the Department of Army Survivor Outreach Services and the volunteers at the veterans’ museum.
Retired Army soldiers Jim Joyce and Darrell Woodall said the ceremony honoring deceased veterans is “a very moving experience for everyone involved.”
“There are two, separate events that occur every September here at the park,” said Joyce, who is also the museum’s director.
He said the public ceremony, which lasts about 40 minutes, gives way to the private ceremony, which occurs inside the museum at in a room dedicated to fallen soldiers from Georgia.
The small room within the museum has flowers, chairs, benches and a wall where portraits of the soldiers are displayed.
“During the private ceremony, families will be presented with portraits of their loved ones and these will go on the wall of honor,” Joyce said.
He said many families will come back to this room to “remember, reflect and feel like they are with their soldier.”
This year, 17 new portraits will be added to the wall.
“We recently received an envelope filled with a World War II soldier’s Purple Heart, photos and information but we could find no living family to be here to honor him, so we will honor him and make sure he isn’t forgotten” Woodall said.
He said he recognized one of the photographs on the wall immediately after he began volunteering at the museum.
“I’m a retired teacher and I knew one of the soldiers because he was my student almost 19 years ago,” Woodall said.
Joyce and Woodall said the program was started with grieving families in mind.
“They know that these portraits are treated with absolute reverence and respect and that’s what the Gold Star event and organization is all about,” Joyce said.
Information: (404) 831-9740 or www.co.henry.ga.us.