PENSACOLA, Fl. (NNS) -- In association with Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day, Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola hosted a Bells Across America for Fallen Service Members ceremony, held at the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM), Sept. 21.
Conducted at Navy installations throughout the nation, the ceremony recognizes military service members who died on active duty. The name of each person is read aloud as a bell is tolled to honor and remember him or her. The Navy is proud to recognize the sacrifices of our fallen service members and the Gold Star families left behind through these coordinated ceremonies.
Commander, Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, served as guest speaker.
"Our great country was founded upon a personal willingness to sacrifice for something greater than one's self," said Cozad. "Today's ceremony is an opportunity to recognize the unselfish service of those shipmates and to say thank you."
Held onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, the ceremony was a collaborative effort between the NAS Pensacola Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) and the Navy Gold Star Program. The Navy Gold Star Program serves the families of all who died on active duty, regardless of branch of service or cause of death. The program serves Survivors by providing support, information and services as long as they desire.
"Today is an opportunity to remind all that the loss of those service men and women will never ever be forgotten," added Cozad.
Since 1936, the last Sunday in September has been designated as Gold Star Mother's Day to recognize and honor those who have lost a child while serving the country in the United States armed forces. In 2009, fallen service members' families were officially recognized and added by presidential proclamation, renaming the observance to Gold Star Mother's and Family Day.
Each year the president signs a proclamation reaffirming our commitment to honor the individuals "who carry forward the memories of those willing to lay down their lives for the United States and the liberties for which we stand."
NAS Pensacola FFSC asked all Gold Star Survivors to participate in this event and solicited names from the local area to be recognized during the ceremony. Ninety-five names were collected and read, in order of date of death, as the bell was tolled. Four bell tolls were rung to honor those names not listed.
Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training (CNATT) Command Climate Specialist Master Chief Petty Officer Dwayne Beebe-Franqui, a Gold Star family member whose brother served in the U.S. Army as a Chemical and Biological Warfare Specialist when he was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003, said programs such as this highlight the importance of ensuring deceased service members are not forgotten and family members are given an opportunity for grieving and memorial.
"The pain of losing a family member never goes away," he said. "Gold Star Families have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country - they have lost their close loved-ones in defense of our nation and its ideals. Memorials and ceremonies such as this ensure their memories live on, and demonstrate the importance of what we do every day to a generation of younger service members."
For more information on the Navy Gold Star Program or the location of Bells Across America for Fallen Service Members in your area, please visit http://www.facebook.com/navy-goldstar/ or http://www.navy-goldstar.com/ or call 1-888-509-8759.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnatt/.