Names of the Fallen
Ruth Stonesifer's Remarks
May 12, Soldiers Grove, Harrisburg PA.
Governor Rendell and distinguished guests, it’s an honor to have you
here with us today. But I would like to recognize some of our
honored guests seated in the audience.
First, I would like to acknowledge our more veteran Gold Star
Mothers in the audience. Please stand and remain standing when I
call out the conflicts-- Molly Snyder our oldest PA mom from Korea,
the mothers and families from Vietnam, Beirut, and the Gulf War, and
peace time accidents. Now will the Gold Star Families from
Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror, please stand and join them
to be recognized
Thank you for coming today to honor our fallen sons and daughters.
There are a lot of thank you’s to go around for an event this big;
but there’s one in particular I would like to acknowledge, Gina
Bucheli would you please stand. Gina is the graphic designer whose
patience knows no bounds. Thank you for putting up with all the
corrections and for making the tribute to our sons and daughters
look so special. (Present Roses)
On 19 Oct 2001, when my son Kristofor was killed in action on a
dusty airstrip in Pakistan, I did not even know what a gold star
mother was. About six weeks after that horrible day, my oldest son
Ric, who serves in the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer, told me he
would fill out the paper work for this Dept of Defense lapel pin I
Like most members of my generation, I knew nothing about the gold
star families who have journeyed down this life altering path before
me. Having grown up in a peaceful America, I was embarrassed by my
ignorance about the significance of this little Gold Star.
When I took over as the Dept of PA President for the American Gold
Star Mothers, I embarked on a three stage awareness program, kind of
a mini 12 step-program to educated people just like me.
The first mission was to get a Gold Star Family license plate for
our great state. Thank you, Governor Rendell for signing that into
law last year. Many of us have that plate on our cars in Harrisburg
My second mission was the PA Hometown Heroes Banner campaign.
Today we come to the opening of this tribute to our fallen loved
ones and unite as Gold Star Families in our healing. I want to thank
the Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District’s Board of Directors
and staff for seeing the merit of my project and working so
diligently on helping me to accomplish it.
I’ve been asked why do you do these projects. For one reason, pure
guilt for not paying enough attention to the sacrifice our sons and
daughters were making over the years to keep our country free.
But the main inspiration is my son Kris. He would not want me to sit
home and suck my thumb the rest of my life. That is not how he lived
One of my son’s ROTC buddies at the University of Montana described
him as… “Kris was the kind of guy who could talk you into jumping
off a steep cliff with him without a parachute just for the sheer
joy of the learning experience.
There you’d be in free fall with him grinning ear to ear at you, and
somehow you knew that just before hitting the ground; Kris would
help you find the knowledge to walk away unharmed. Then as you
exhale a sigh of relief, he’d say, ‘that was great, what shall we
So, Governor Rendell, someday when you occupy that oval office in that
big White House on Pennsylvania Ave a little further south of here,
maybe you’ll be there to sign the third step of my awareness
program, a Gold Star Family Commemorative Postage Stamp.
My son is the reason I get up in the morning and try on a new day.
When I finally do catch up to him in that other dimension, I want
him to be as proud of me as I am of him and I have a lot of catching
up to do in that department.
My son’s legacy is very simple for me, if I live a life constantly
worrying about my parachute, I will never truly soar with the eagles
like he did.