Illinois mothers who lost children in service to the U.S. military have a day in their honor, and now the entire family does too.
The last Monday in September, a day after Gold Star Mother's Day, is now Gold Star Families Day in Illinois.
Along with other bills focusing on veterans in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Gold Star Families Day measure during activities focused on veterans at the 2016 Illinois State Fair last month.
During a Gold Star Families Day ceremony at the Capitol in Springfield today, James Frazier spoke about his son Jacob, an Illinois Air National Guard staff sergeant, who died in a 2003 attack in Afghanistan.
Click here for summary
Frazier said people shouldn't shy away from asking families about their lost loved ones.
“When you say to me, ‘Hey, Jim, how old was Jake?’ I’m happy to tell you he was 24,” Frazier said. “I’m glad that you used his name. When you use his name, it means that you are remembering him too.”
Frazier said that while mothers grieve the loss of their children, there are others who also suffer. Jacob “was the eldest of five children, and his four siblings suffered that loss just as badly as his mother and I did.” Aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents also grieve, Frazier said.
Frazier is a survivor outreach service coordinator for the Illinois National Guard, which puts him in regular contact with other affected families around the state.