Gold Star Families Gather for Thanksgiving in NYC, Honoring Their Fallen Loved Ones
November 28, 2019
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) â€“ The holidays can be hard for families who have lost loved ones.
One organization is making sure families of our countryâ€™s fallen military are not forgotten this Thanksgiving.
Inside a ballroom near Times Square, youâ€™ll find the families of some of Americaâ€™s bravest men and women. Their loved ones all share similar stories of heroism, but its shared loss that brings them together Thursday.
â€œHe was a gentle warrior, itâ€™s the best way to describe how he was and who he was.â€
The 29 families all lost a husband, a wife, a mother, or father serving in the military. For many, like gold star spouse Alexa Ruiz, the grief was overwhelming. Finding the strength to attend a military gathering like this took 12 years.
â€œA lot of times when you deal with grief your family members and friends they canâ€™t comprehend. They donâ€™t come from a place where they can understand what it means to lose a soldier,â€ Ruiz said.
The Gary Sinise Foundationâ€™s Snowball Express program hosts events year round for children of fallen heroes. Organizers say Thanksgiving is an especially important time to show support.
â€œAround the holidays itâ€™s just difficult, they get questions, where is daddy, why isnâ€™t he here?â€ Erika Gronenthal said.
This dinner isnâ€™t just about fun or games, families say it has the power of healing, letting children bond with others who experience similar loss.
â€œWe are like one big family now, itâ€™s such a warm feeling. I need to let my daughter know that we arenâ€™t the only ones in this situation,â€ Sharon Roderique said.
â€œIt just brings a comfort in holidays like this.â€
Families say they come as strangers, but in the end, they are all a shared family.