Under clear skies Saturday at Tucson’s Evergreen Mortuary and Cemetery, 150 people joined in the dedication of a commemorative statue to mothers who have lost children who were serving in the United States military.
The life-sized bronze statue was presented to Sheron Jones, president of the Tucson chapter of American Gold Star Mothers Inc., on behalf of the son she lost in 2007, Army Staff Sgt. Darrel D. Kasson, and all mothers who have lost their children.
“It took my breath away when I finally got to see it, even though I was the model for this statue. It’s different when you see it live,” Jones said. “I didn’t think it was ever going to happen. It’s taken me eight years, but I decided I was never going to give up until we got it.”
The statue features a mother and her two young children, the daughter sits next to her, while the young son salutes and holds Kasson’s dog tags in his left hand.
Since her son’s death, Jones has worked with the American Gold Star Mothers to help comfort other women who are visited with a similar loss.
Jones worked on the design with a longtime friend, who later sculpted the statue. The statue became a reality after a man and his wife donated money to help build it.
The memorial honors all deceased veterans who served and is a place where families and friends can visit to reflect on their ultimate sacrifice.
The event was organized by the American Patriot Memorial, a grass-roots Tucson organization that advocates for better veterans’ assistance programs and works to make sure veterans receive recognition for their honorable service.
“These families are always with us, they’re amongst us,” said Joseph Morgan, a member of the organization. “They don’t ever view Thanksgiving the same. They don’t get to have another birthday celebration for the child they lost and that was so that we could live our lives.”
Among the veterans, families and supporters at the event was another Gold Star mom, Heather Hocker, president of the Cochise County chapter of Gold Star Mothers. She lost her son Army Warrant Officer Joel P. Hocker in September 2011.
“When you become a Gold Star family, you find out that we are a family, even though our soldiers have passed away. The military family is still there to hold everyone together, lift them up and support them,” Hocker said.
Hocker, who is working on a veterans memorial in Marana, said the statue truly represents survivors who carry on their family member’s legacy.
“Sheron’s been working a long time on this, and this statue touches everyone, the mother, the children, the siblings, the wife,” Hocker said. “It’s the epitome of a Gold Star family, whoever the representative may be.”
The memorial is always open on the cemetery grounds at 3015 N. Oracle Road for visitors to remember their loved ones.
“Our sons and daughters gave their life to protect us and what we want them to do is to come out here and sit and think about the fact we know their loss,” Jones said. “We want to remember that we have them always with us in our hearts and they will be there forever.”