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|Memorial Day service to honor fallen soldiers|
A special Memorial Day service at Kiroli Park will be held Monday to recognize several local mothers who have lost children fighting in the War on Terror.
The Blue Star Mothers of Northeast Louisiana first put on the Memorial Day service last year to honor these fallen soldiers and their families.
Jayme Watson of the Blue Star Mothers of Northeast Louisiana encouraged local residents to bring flags and show their support for the men and women "who gave their all for their country."
She said Monday's event is a time to honor the families whose children have died defending freedom as well as remember the sacrifice the soldiers have made in serving the United States.
The event will begin at 2 p.m. Monday under the band stand located near the entrance of Kiroli Park.
"This will be a simple, but meaningful service to honor those who have died for our country," Watson said. "We just need to remember them and that's what we're going to try and do."
Local folk singer Rickey Pittman has written a special song for the occasion and will perform it to honor the 'Gold Star Mothers' who will be recognized during Monday's ceremony.
Seven local mothers will receive wreaths and flowers during the ceremony. Each has lost a child fighting in the War on Terror.
Watson become emotional when she recalled how all but one local mother agreed to participate. The one mother who declined recently lost her son in Iraq.
"It's still so fresh for her," Watson said. "She said she didn't want anything … all she wants is her son back."
One of the missions of the organization is to be a support group for these mothers.
Blue Star Mothers of America, which the local chapter is associated with, is a non-profit organization comprised of mothers who now have, or had, children serving honorably in the military.
The group especially wants to help mothers who have a child deploying for the first time.
"A lot of times it's their first-born or their youngest and they really have a hard time with it," Watson said.
The organization was officially formed in 1945 as a support group for families with loved ones in the service. The organization has continued to support active duty service personnel. It also works to promote patriotism, and assists veterans organizations.
Another way the local chapter helps is by routinely sending out care packages to soldiers overseas, which Watson said is greatly appreciated by the men and women in the Armed Forces.
"We continue to support them and we just want to remind them that people back home love them and miss them," Watson said. "They are so appreciative of anything we do, and really, I think sometimes they're just glad to see a stamp from home."
Guest speakers also will be on hand Monday, including Sen. Mike Walsworth and Rep. Kay Kellogg Katz. The group also has asked several local Purple Heart recipients to speak at the event.
There also will be a special service to honor all fallen soldiers who have died fighting in the service of the United States during previous wars.
"Almost everyone can point to a grandpa or an uncle who died in World War II, Korea or Vietnam, and we certainly want to honor them," Watson said.