Legion staffer helps honor Gold Star mothers, wives
Tyra Nelson, right, of The

Legion staffer helps honor Gold Star mothers, wives

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) held its annual Memorial Day ceremony at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 23, to recognize the sacrifices made by military men and women. Tyra Nelson, policy associate for The American Legion’s Veterans Employment & Education Division in the Washington, D.C., office, was in attendance to present white and gold blazers to American Gold Star mothers and Gold Star wives, along with a certificate of remembrance for their fallen loved one.

“Being selected to participate in such a prestigious event was overwhelming, filling me with immense pride and respect,” said Nelson, who has been involved with the Maryland Gold Star Mothers. “Working with these remarkable women on different projects has always been rewarding, but nothing compares to the significance of ‘Their Sacrifice-Our Debt, Memorial 2024,’” the theme of HUD’s Memorial Day service.

“When I think about the sacrifice that’s been made for those we lost, I look at it as a down payment,” said Wayne Williams, Army veteran and HUD director for Office of Departmental Equal Employment Opportunity, in his ceremony remarks. “A lot of people say that’s the final call, but it’s the down payment. We look at each other and say, ‘We still have a balance to pay.’”

Williams named three things that will pay the balance. 

1.        “Unwavering, steadfast protection of our democratic principles. We are a nation that values liberty and freedom. And we must preserve that at all costs. Whether you’re wearing the uniform or not, otherwise, their loss was in vain.”

2.        Remembrance and appreciation. “I want you to remember these (Gold Star) families, they live Memorial Day every day. Make it an everyday for us. That’s what real remembrance is about. It’s understanding that their sacrifice was never in vain.”

3.        ”You must live up to your full potential. They did not go into battle for us to stand back and say, ‘Well, I might do it,’ ‘I’ll think about it,’ ‘I’ll think about protecting my freedoms,’ ‘I’ll think about living my full life.’ They gave their full life for us.”

As the Gold Star mothers and wives individually walked to the front of the room to receive a white or gold blazer and a remembrance certificate for their child or spouse, Nelson hugged each woman.  

“This experience has been profoundly meaningful to me, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to honor these incredible women and their families,” she said. “The Gold Star mothers hold a very special place in my heart, particularly Mrs. Janice Chance, Gold Star mother of Captain Jesse Melton III (who was honored at the HUD service). She was the first Gold Star mother to welcome me to Washington, D.C., in 2019 (at a National Gold Star Mother’s Day event in Arlington National Cemetery). From that moment on, she has always made me feel special, helping me transition to a new place without any family and inviting me to join the Gold Star mother family.”