SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Gold Star families gathered on the USS Midway on Sunday to honor their fallen heroes. Dozens made personal ornaments to hang on a Christmas tree during the ceremony.
The holidays are a time of mixed emotions for many military families.
“It's still heart-wrenching, it still hurts,” said Patricia Weaver. “It's very heartbreaking to know that he's not here again for another Christmas.”
This will be Patricia's 8th Christmas without her son, Army Sergeant Jason Michael Weaver.
Back in March of 2011, the 22-year-old military police officer was killed by an IED while serving in Afghanistan.
"Every day is hard for me but during the holidays it's very difficult,” said Patricia.
In an effort to relieve some of that burden, the Navy's Gold Star program offers families a special way to honor their fallen loved ones by putting up memorial trees during the holiday season.
"We need to let them know they're never forgotten,” said Patricia. “They will always be in here in our hearts.”
Families at Sunday’s annual decorating ceremony on the USS Midway decorated the tree with personalized Christmas ornaments.
Many ornaments were adorned with pictures and messages of love for the servicemembers they've lost.
"And we all need to be proud of all of them. Not just my son, all of them,” said Patricia. “There's huge pride in me for what my son stood for. He stood for his country and by doing so he gave that ultimate sacrifice and I'm proud of him for that. And he will always be my hero, not just my son, not just my best friend, but my hero.”
Military officials ask that if you ever visit any of their Gold Star trees during Christmas time that you take the time to look at the ornaments to remember fallen heroes.