By WECT Staff | May 31, 2021 at 4:11 PM EDT – Updated May 31 at 5:03 PM
ST. JAMES, N.C. (WECT) – A ceremony was held Monday morning at the St. James Community Center in the town of St. James to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation and to pay tribute to four St. James Gold Star families.
The American Legion Post 543 organized the event in memory of the more than one million people who have died serving their country in the military.
The ministry team of Post 543 invited four Gold Star families to this special ceremony. Gold Star families are those whose child died while serving in the military.
“We’re very grateful that four families took the opportunity to come forward because as you know, it is a very personal thing for a Gold Star family,” said American Legion Post 543 chaplain Tom Bednarczyk. “It’s very nice that they are willing to come out today to be honored by the community.”
Gay and Kevin Murga were among the Gold Star families honored there today.
They lost their son, Special Forces Captain Austin Murga, six months after he returned from Afghanistan. He suffered from PTSD and took his own life.
“It is a time to remember and honor and reflect on those who have died for this country,” said Murga. “But it is our inclination to not remember those who also gallantly died with wounds that are not visible — I’m referring to PTSD.”
The post commander, George Freeman, recognized the importance of the country pausing today to honor the fallen heroes.
He remembered a time when the country did not respect those who served.
“When I first joined the service right during the end of the Vietnam War, I couldn’t wear my uniform in public because I was spit upon,” said Freeman. “The fact that we are here today, and recognizing those who have served, is truly something exciting that I have seen in my own lifetime and I deeply appreciate the fact that you’re here to help us recognize that.”
Two of the Gold Star families honored at the ceremony lost loved ones in the Vietnam War, and two lost their family members during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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