VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.
The 2019 Roll Call of Remembrance Memorial Day Observance Ceremony was held May 23 at the Naval Air Station Oceana Chapel of the Good Shepherd to remember members of the United States military who have died while serving on active duty.
The event recognized Gold Star family members, including the parents, spouses, siblings, children and adopted family of those fallen service members.
Navy Gold Star is the Navy’s official program for providing long-term support to surviving families of military personnel who have died while on active duty.
During the event, proclamations from Ralph Northam, Governor of Virginia, and Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina, declaring May as ‘Gold Star Awareness Month’ were read aloud.
Capt. Chad Vincelette, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Oceana, spoke to those gathered at the chapel, expressing his support for the families and sharing his own personal experiences.
“I think it’s very important that we hold an event like this,” said Vincelette. “It shows the Gold Star families that their service members are not forgotten. We recognize the sacrifice not only the service member made, but the family made as well.”
During the ceremony, the names of over 80 fallen service members with connections to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia were read by active duty service members. A bell was tolled periodically during the roll call in profound recognition of the service members’ absence.
One of the Gold Star family members, Cathy Bordeaux, was in attendance at the ceremony. She is the mother of Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Philip Alan Bordeaux, of Durham, N.C., who died August 3, 2013 after a car accident while he was stationed at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy.
“It’s hard coming to events like this, but it feels good to know that he is remembered,” said Bordeaux. “As long as we’re still shedding tears, we know that his life meant something and he’s still a part of our lives.”
Bordeaux said she’s grateful for the support from the Navy after the loss of her son and thinks events like these are special.
“I think it’s great that the Navy holds these events,” said Bordeaux. “My husband and I appreciate the support from Oceana and the Navy families who are also remembering their loved ones. The Navy family truly is a Navy family.”
Various memorial traditions began all over the country after the Civil War. Families decorated graves with ribbons and flowers to honor the fallen. In 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans suggested a nationwide celebration, Decoration Day, be held on May 30th. Decoration Day eventually came to be known as Memorial Day. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, establishing Memorial Day as a federal holiday and changing it to the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. This new law took effect in 1971.
While Memorial Day weekend is usually celebrated with food and festivities, it is important to remember the true meaning of the holiday: remembering those who have passed away while protecting the United States.