BOZEMAN – After Monday’s American Legion Post 14 breakfast, the Memorial Day parade made its way through downtown Bozeman. But it was the Gold Star Family tribute ceremony following the parade that made this Memorial Day a special one.
"This is a day to remember those who have fallen, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, to allow us to continue to live free in this great country,” said U.S. Senator Steve Daines, who spoke at the memorial ceremony following the parade.
That’s why American Legion Post 14 took time on Monday, to honor the families of those who lost their lives serving their country, with their annual Gold Star Family Ceremony at the Vietnam Wall in the Sunset Hills Cemetery.
Eighteen families were honored, each receiving a challenge coin, and a yellow rose signifying remembrance.
"Somewhere in between the flag waving, sports, beer, barbecues, take a moment to imagine how many really people just like you, will never again experience such joyful times, so enjoy it for them," said Len Albright, who led the ceremony for American Legion Post 14.
For Madison Mackinnon, whose father Michael Mackinnon died while serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army, it’s an opportunity to look back on memories with the father she knew.
"He was a very honorable man,” Mackinnon said. “He wanted us to always be strong, so he would always tell us to rub some dirt in it, he was always the nicest guy, he always made me feel really special in things like that,” she said.
“This was my first year here, even though it’s been going on for a while,” Mackinnon said. “I don’t even know how to describe it, very heartwarming and very emotional. They definitely made us feel very honored, and I’m glad I came today," she said.
And Albright shared one last message for attendees on this Memorial Day.
"Have a great meal, good times with those you love. Laugh a little louder, hug a little longer, love a little deeper for them. Live life twice as richly for someone who never came home."
Close to 78 family members participated in the Gold Star tribute.