BOZEMAN — It was a rainy and yet somber Memorial Day as Bozeman unveiled Montana’s first Gold Star Family memorial monument.
“We don't want our loved ones to be forgotten. They sacrificed for this county. It's very important that they are remembered and honored,” says Gold Star Family Member, Gail Maehl.
Dozens gathered at Sunset Hills Cemetery Monday afternoon as steady rain fell, with the Bozeman community celebrating Memorial Day. The day is more special in Bozeman as the city becomes home to Montana’s first Gold Star Memorial and the 100th across the county.
“It means a lot when people come out, especially when the weather is like this and support our troops, support our veterans, support America really,” says Maehl.
Maehl is a member of a Gold Star family; her brother Captain Micheal MacKinnon was killed in combat in 2005 while in Iraq.
“He was on a second tour in Iraq when he was killed by an IED and he left behind a wife and two kids; he was only 30 years old,” says Maehl.
Maehl says his life was dedicated to the service of this country.
“My brother was a West Point graduate. So military was his career,” says Maehl.
Maehl calls Missoula home, and says having the support from across the state, country and abroad has been tremendous.
“The state of Montana is incredible,” says Maehl. “It's been incredible, like people from all over the country, even the world have reached out and the support has meant everything.
The unveiling ceremony included a reading from Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) into the Congressional Record in honor of Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams of the Woody Williams Foundation which helps put up Gold Star monuments across the county.
It also included a blessing and prayer, with a traditional 21 gun salute at the end, and "Taps" was heard throughout the cemetery.
“I'm honored to be a part of the Gold Star Family in the sense that no one wants to be in this group, but the friendships and the quality people that we have met has meant everything,” says Maehl.