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NEWS | Nov. 19, 2020

JBLE honors, thanks Gold Star families

By Beverly Joyner 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

To honor Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in service to our nation, Survivor Outreach Services hosted a “Thanks-for-Giving” Thanksgiving social at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Nov. 13, 2020.

Beginning in World War I, families displayed flags or banners with blue stars that represented loved ones who were serving in the armed forces. The term “Gold Star family” derived from survivors replacing the blue star with a gold star when an immediate family member died in the line of duty.

During the opening remarks, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, Center for Initial Military Training commander and Fort Eustis senior commander Army element, highlighted President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation that set the precedence for America’s day of Thanksgiving and spoke of how he was honored to share the event with Gold Star families.

“Not only can we share some great turkey, but we can share some of our Army stories to remember those who have come before us and those who have fallen in service for our country,” Hibbard said. “We’re forever grateful to the Gold Star families for their sacrifices and for their continued service for our military and the support that you give to our Fort Eustis family.”

In the past years, Gold Star families gathered at Fort Eustis the week before Thanksgiving and brought their deceased service member’s favorite side dish to share. However, that tradition was not possible this year due to the coronavirus, according to Cecelia Wallace, Army Support Activity SOS coordinator.

“The purpose of us coming together is a good way for us to check in with the families prior to the holidays and for the families to check in with each other: to see how everyone’s doing, to reconnect and to remind each other about their sacrifice,” Wallace said. “There’s a ceremonial and memorial aspect to it but the primary purpose is on having fun, to give them something to smile about and someone to talk to.”

The event, held at the Fort Eustis Club, featured a musical medley by the U. S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band’s “Low Tide” ensemble, dinner, games and a holiday basket raffle.

For more information about Gold Star Families, visit