Gold Star families honor the fallen during modified Memorial Day ceremonies

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Despite the coronavirus pandemic, people found ways to commemorate this Memorial Day while still staying safe. There were no major parades, and the ceremonies are modified, but people are still gathering to honor the fallen on Memorial Day. 

James & Leslie Groves are Gold Star parents. James says, “You don’t quite grasp it until you’re a Gold Star family, then you understand the true meaning of Memorial Day.” 

The Groveses always commemorated Memorial Day, but it took on a new meaning in 2013, when their son James III was killed in Afghanistan while on his fourth tour of duty. James says he was a “Good kid. Played peewee football, baseball, softball, football. Had a sense of humor. Would always pick on dad. Ask dad what it was like to have George Washington as a squad leader.” 

On Monday the Groveses took part in a modified ceremony to honor the dead at Dayton Memorial Park. Leslie Groves says in commemorating those who sacrificed their lives, we should make it personal whenever possible. “They die twice: the day they stop breathing and the day people stop saying their names.” 

And while not every family is impacted as deeply or personally as the Groves family, they remind us we all can take a moment to appreciate what’s been lost. Leslie says, “Memorial Day is not ‘happy Memorial Day’. It is a day for respect, for remembrance, and some reverence.” 

This ceremony was one of seven modified ceremonies the VFW honor guard took part in Monday, each of them keeping social distance guidelines to try to keep people apart. 

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