KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After two U.S. Senators co-sponsored a resolution designating Aug. 1 as National Gold Star Children’s Day last year, a Gold Star Family is hoping more people become aware of the overall meaning behind it as they share a similar story to others who have lost loved ones while serving our country.
“I know we lost Jon in a terrible mishap, but he died serving his country,” said Kris Rystrom Emmert, a Gold Star spouse and author.
On March 26, 1993, Navy Pilot Jon Rystrom was flying in a mission known as Operation Provide Promise in Bosnia. He and four other crew members were killed when trying to land.
“The plane flew straight into the water with no cry for help, with no issues, nothing and it just crashed into the lonian Sea and the whole plane was gone. They never found the plane and all of the crew members, including my husband were lost at sea,” Emmert said.
Soon, the knock no family wants to receive was at her door.
“Jordyn was three-and-a-half, she was in preschool when the Naval officers came to my door to tell me about the mishap,” Emmert said. “My other daughter, Taylor, she was just seven months old.”
When reflecting on that day, Emmert said she gained something that would help her cope with her husband’s death, though at the time she didn’t know it.
“They gave me a little gold star lapel pin and I was like, ‘okay, I’ve got this pin,’ but didn’t understand there’s this whole [Gold Star] community around the world, and it’s a community that’s a really silent community,” she said.
As a Gold Star Family, it includes spouses, children, parents, siblings or others whose loved ones died in service, and as Aug. 1 marks National Gold Star Children’s Day, Emmert and her daughter Jordyn believe more needs to be brought to light.
“We had no clue that we were part of this community, we had no clue that we actually had this identity that could’ve been part of something wonderful,” Jordyn said.
Now in honor of never forgetting the heroes, the mother-daughter duo hope Gold Star Families are remembered as well.
“I’m trying to make that a platform of awareness so that people know that there’s a Jordyn Emmert out there who lost her dad when she was three years old and she’s a Gold Star daughter and I think she should be recognized for that as well as her sister, so I’m trying to push that platform a little bit, especially being a patriot,” Emmert said.
Gold Star Families are recognized two times during the year. The last Sunday of September is Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day and April 5 is Gold Star Spouses Day.