EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors and family members gathered for the 2016 Navy Gold Star Tribute Ceremony and 5K run at Jackson Plaza on Naval Station Everett (NSE), July 13.
This year's ceremony was held in honor of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Sean Carson, a Redmond, Washington native who died in combat while deployed to Kandahar Province, Afghanistan in 2012.
"It was a wonderful event," said Fran K. Carson, Sean's mother. "It gave me a great way of honoring and remembering my son, and sharing with the community about him and his success."
Fran was the Gold Star Mom, and guest of honor. She took the podium and shared her son's story.
"We do this so we never forget the sacrifice that they made for our country," said Fran. "It also keeps them alive. As long as we keep talking about them, keep sharing their story that keeps them alive in our memories forever."
Navy Gold Star events like this offer an opportunity to remember those who paid the ultimate price for the country.
"These events help bring things home in a way that makes the name an actual person; it's someone's son; it's someone's husband; Sean was someone's father," said Tina Soukup, the NSE installation Navy Gold Star coordinator. "So to make it more personal, and to make it more real and tangible, I think is a big thing for those who attend these events."
These events also serve as a medium for those left behind to connect with what their loved one experienced while serving.
"We as a naval station want to support that anyway we can," Cmdr. Rodman D. Burley, executive officer, NSE. "We invite them to come here and see how we work, how we operate; it gives them a glimpse of the life of the loved one they lost."
Soukup said honoring Sean and Fran at this event was a great way to give back for all the work Fran does for the local Gold Star family.
"Fran is very active in the Gold Star Community," said Soukup. "She is a member of the Gold Star moms of the Northwest and Washington, so I know her very well. She's always at the events. It just seemed fitting that we honor her son. He hadn't passed too long ago; it's only been about 4 years."
The Navy Gold Star program is the branch's official program to provide support to survivors of Sailors who pass away while serving on active duty.
Shortly after the ceremony participants and attendees gathered on the base track for a 5K run through base, small American flags -- each dedicated to a local service member who died in the line of duty -- marked the direction of course.
"We have to remember that there are service members on post, on watch, on deployment year round," said Burley. "So while we're working back here at Naval Station Everett in Washington, right now anywhere around the world, there's a service member that's deploying. There are people putting their lives on the line standing these watches. An event like today's lets us reflect on that, to remember our brothers and sisters in arms who are out there, and also the impact it has on the families. It serves as a reminder of why we're all here, why we wear the uniform, and why we protect our great country."
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