Gold Star families never forgotten

The Glende family is one of many honored in a new memorial in Pittsford (Provided photo)

Local fallen service members and their families are being saluted for their service with the dedication of a new memorial monument at White Haven Memorial Park.

The Gold Star Families Memorial Committee is excited to unveil the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument after two years of planning and fundraising. The stunning monument will not only honor those lost in battle, but the families forced to endure unimaginable loss. Committee treasurer John White described the monument's purpose, and how important he hopes it will be for the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"There's always going to be a place at the table, there's always going to be a seat at a reunion, there's always going to be a holiday, and there's always going to be a daily remembrance when someone's missing," White said. "That hurts, and it's deep. We hope that this memorial monument brings solace and brings comfort, and I say this, a sense of extreme pride that only those families who've lost a loved one in combat can know."

The elegant symbolism found in the monument is something White hopes will help remind families that they, along with their lost loved one, are not forgotten. "The whole process of a Gold Star Families Memorial was to extend it to the whole family who suffers the loss," White said.

The monument is especially meaningful to Ava Maria and Theodore Glende after losing their son Matt during combat in 2012.

"This is just a beautiful physical presence to the families who are missing a husband, wife, or a father, mother, or a child," Mrs. Glende said. "It gives us a place to come and feel remembered."

For Theodore Glende, the monument is comforting given the tight-knit nature of the Gold Star Families Community. "No one really wants to be a Gold Star member," he said. "But it's very humbling that there's a monument like this, and there are others across the country."

The project which cost approximately $90,000 to construct and is fully-funded just needed the right home. The committee and families desired an environment that fostered a sense of reflection and remembrance. White Haven Memorial Park gave them just that.

"White Haven is hallowed ground. It is very reverent in terms of a solemn environment. It is very veteran friendly," White said. "It's always been a tribute, if you will, that White Haven specifically focuses on honoring the veterans. The other thing that we chose as a committee was that this property is impeccably cared for. The maintenance, care, and the presentation on a long term basis of this beautiful and this memorable monument is something that was a very serious part of our consideration."

For the Glendes, nothing can fill the void left after the death of their son, but as they walk the grounds of White Haven in remembrance of Matt, they can do so knowing that they will not be forgotten.

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