Nov 02 2022
Eric Wilkinson | King5
LYNNWOOD, Wash. — A new memorial for Gold Star moms and families has been unveiled at Lynnwood's Veterans Park.
Jane Hughes prepared yellow roses to be handed out to families of military veterans, on a crisp November afternoon.
"Yellow is for when they come home," she said, somberly.
Sometimes our veterans come home from war, sometimes they don't.
In Jane's case, her daughter Danielle did, but the war never left her.
"When they come home and they have issues that's even more difficult because you just don't know," Jane said.
Danielle Hughes Crone joined the United States Air Force straight out of high school, as America went to war with Iraq.
The staff sergeant was a decorated airman, flying 130 sorties over eight deployments in the middle east. Her time there spanned seven years.
She had finally made it back to friendly soil, but that was when her internal battle began. Danielle died by suicide just a few months after returning home.
She was 25 years old.
"It's just not something you can really describe," Jane said. "It's sort of like a hole in your heart and in your life."
Twelve years later, Jane still doesn't know what pushed her only daughter over the edge.
"So many moms keep saying it's their fault. They ask what could they have done differently. That's the most difficult part for the families left behind," said Jane.
On Wednesday, all those "families left behind" got their own honor.
"It's just to remind people we're still here," says Jane, president of the Washington chapter of American Gold Star Mothers. "We want our kids to be remembered. We want the spouses to be remembered."
There are at least 850 mothers in Washington who have lost a child to our country's wars since 9/11.
The Lynnwood memorial stands beside 22 empty stone seats in tribute to the American service members, like Danielle, who killed themselves during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The mothers' memorial also includes indigenous people, brothers, sisters, fathers and spouses.
Its intent is to embrace everyone in every Gold Star family, just as any mother would.
"You know, as a mom and a spouse our job is always to be that strong person who holds everything together," said Jane. "As mothers it's our job to make sure everybody is talking and remembering."
The Lynnwood memorial is one of three Gold Star monuments in Washington.
A fourth is being planned for Lacey in Thurston County.