Author: Michele Hiester Marcum
As a child, I loved the rambunctious revelry of Christmas, with its brilliant lights, mammoth toy catalogs, never-ending wish lists and long days of cookie baking and candy making. I loved the noise and commotion and the belief in Santa, who reigned in not only his reindeer, but over the whole world, it seemed.
As an adult, however, I love the rich history and familiar traditions that accompany the Christmas season, begging my spirit to calm itself in the quiet moments. I especially love one of the greatest stories ever told, which included three wise men traveling a great distance, following a star, to bring the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor their beloved. This season, it's that simple childhood story that has given me a new perspective to ponder.
For those of us who have lost a service member, we have our own story about a journey, a star, and the blue that turned to gold. Some of us have traveled roads we never dreamed imaginable, feeling emotions we never knew existed. That little star has forever altered our journey, guiding us in opposite directions, to unknown destinations, through the darkest of nights. And we do it at first because we have no choice. Later, we continue because we want to honor those we love.
I am in no way attempting to equate our Gold Star journey with the birth and ultimate death of Jesus Christ, but I am humbled by the realization that they are both ultimately stories of great adoration, heartbreak, and sacrifice. What I find most compelling is the weight of that heavy, heavy gold, given freely because of its enormous value. It was a precious, meaningful gift, carried for miles upon miles, and bestowed without hesitation. And isn't that what our loved ones did on our behalf? Freely gave the gift of themselves to honor our freedoms. And now it is we who carry the enormous weight of that loss every single day.
We have lost men and women with unlimited potential and incredible value, and yet, we have also gained something undeniably precious: our Gold Star family. Together, we carry our burdens, our heartache, and yes, even our occasional victories. I would give absolutely anything to have never met any of you, to have never suffered the loss that brought my path to yours, to have never experienced all the emotions that have found me in the intervening years. I would change it all if I could, but… I can't.
If it all had to happen, though, I am so incredibly blessed to have had each of you to share the journey. My brother is gone, but you are here! You have shared my journey, either physically by my side or only online, reading my rambling, sometimes scattered thoughts. Whether you're a parent, a sibling, a child, a relative with some other title, a battle buddy, or a friend, this one is for you.
I might not have met you in person, but you are my family, and your value is immeasurable. Together, we carry the weight of our golden stars, and together, we understand the precious cost of all we've lost. Like the Star of Bethlehem, your own star will guide your journey, illuminating a path that will honor your loved one and allow you to share your own story of love, courage, and sacrifice. Though the journey is long and the burden heavy, it is with great honor that we trudge along. They are our everything. Pure gold.