ST. LOUIS --
The beautiful room at the St. Louis Union Station Marriott was filled with large round tables and crowded with women in white dresses, men in suits and Marines in uniform. People laughed and smiled as they enjoyed brunch together. Onlookers would never imagine that hidden behind the laughter, lies unimaginable heartache.
The women in white dresses, sprinkled throughout the room, share a common pain, yet a unique strength. Each of the women, called Gold Star Mothers, lost a son who valiantly defended the United States as a Marine. It was the selfless dedication of these young men that filled these women with the inner strength and hope to carry on. The spark of their lost sons burned on in each of their hearts, inspiring them to keep that flame alive.
On the final day of Marine Week St. Louis, Marines hosted a brunch to honor Gold Star families and the memory of their fallen sons. During the brunch, a slideshow announced each fallen St. Louis Marine, as well as his family in attendance. Although many tears were shed, each family was applauded for their loyalty and strength in the face of their loss.
One Gold Star family in attendance was Gen. John Kelly and his wife, Karen, who lost their son, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, in Afghanistan last November. The loss was devastating for the Kelly family, but in true Marine Corps spirit, the tragedy did not hold them down. Mrs. Kelly is determined to keep the memory of her son alive.
General and Mrs. Kelly started a scholarship fund in honor of their son. The scholarship will provide the means for the child of a Marine to attend college.
The Lt. Robert Kelly Scholarship was awarded to its first recipient, Lexy Polich, daughter of reserve Staff Sgt. James Polich, at the Gold Star Mothers’ brunch this morning.
“It feels like such an honor,” Polich said of receiving the award. “I feel so grateful for all the Marines and the many sacrifices they and their families have made. It really means a lot.”
These fallen heroes and their families are near and dear to the hearts of all Marines. At the closing ceremony for Marine Week St. Louis, shortly after the brunch, Major Gen. Anthony Jackson spoke a few words to these families, recognizing that they will remain a part of the Marine Corps family. Jackson especially praised the mothers of these brave young men, saying that Marines are born from the wombs of angels.
The Marine Corps, as well as the recipients of the scholarship funds in years to come, will never forget those who have fought and died to protect the United States, or the families who carry their memories in their hearts. The spark of those brave lives will burn on forever.