Jul 12 2023
Jason Cutshaw and Lira Frye | Redstone Rocket
DECATUR – More than 80 Decatur and Morgan County community members honored the families of fallen service members during a Gold Star families memorial monument dedication Saturday at Founder’s Park in Decatur.
During the ceremony, Gold Star mother Darlene Rath said she received a lot of support following the death of her son, Staff Sgt. Joshua Rath.
“I was overwhelmed by the support, but the most meaningful way that people showed their love and concern was when they hugged me,” Rath said. “People often didn’t have any words … but the hug said it all. The hug said: I care; I appreciate Josh’s sacrifice; I miss Josh; I’m grieving with you; I’m with you in this; I love you; I care; I remember Josh.”
Rath’s son died Jan. 8, 2009, in Maywand, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an explosive trap hit his dismounted patrol.
“This monument to me is like a permanent hug,” she said. “It will always be here. It will always remind me that there are people who care about me, and my family and they appreciate and understand the loss and the sacrifice.”
Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, commander of the Space and Missile Defense Command and the ceremony’s guest speaker, recognized the Gold Star families in attendance and reminded the audience of their sacrifice.
“I think I speak for all of us here when I say that we are humbled to share this ceremony with you,” Karbler said. “Every time you look back on your memory of this ceremony or pass by the monument in Founder’s Park here in Decatur or celebrate the freedoms that have been secured by costly sacrifice, I implore you to remember the individual men and women who made it all possible.”
Karbler encouraged the attendees to spend time with Gold Star families and listen to their stories about their loved ones.
“Thank them for their sacrifice, and make sure they know that they and their loved one will never be forgotten,” Karbler said.
He told the Gold Star families that he and the community were inspired by their resilience and sustained by their sacrifice.
“You and your lost loved ones will always be a valued and indispensable part of the Army family and the greatest treasure of a grateful nation,” Karbler said. “You and your family members – the more than 200 men and women represented by this memorial, plus innumerable others who have impacted us and them throughout the years – are the reason we’re here this morning.”
The dedication, sponsored by Vets Like Us, a veterans advocacy and outreach nonprofit, included a reading of the names of the 206 fallen service members from Morgan County from World War I to the present.