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and ready for display, and they receive a magnetic replica for themselves. The banners circulate in small

groups for parades, deployment events, award ceremonies and memorial services, and they are all reunited for such events as the annual Gold Star Families Time of Remembrance Weekend. They are carried by active-duty soldiers when possible and often by volunteers from military units, fire departments, Junior ROTC groups, and VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members. Public reception of the banners has been phenomenal, according to Judy Leu,1SG, U.S. Army (Ret.), 2010-2011 chairman for the project and member of Auxiliary 7392, Oak Harbor. “It amazes me and everybody else who carries them that people will remain seated when the Flag goes by,” said Leu, “but as soon as they realize

what these are, they are on their feet, crying and saluting and thanking the kids who carry them.”

“The big thing I see coming over their faces,” said Small, “is the realization that freedom isn’t free.” For the relatives of those

remembered, the symbols mean even more. “I can’t tell you how many Gold Star Moms have broken down in tears just to know their loved one is not forgotten,” Small said.

Leu has experienced the power of these displays many times, including a parade last September when a platoon sergeant inquired whether a banner had been made for one of the soldiers he lost in Iraq. “He found the banner, carried it the length of the parade and afterward carefully rolled up his soldier’s banner and gave it to me with tears in his eyes, saying, ‘That’s the highest honor I’ve ever had in my life.’”

NOVEMBER 2011 19

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