Salas Holds Ceremony Honoring Gold Star Mothers and Families
Tree planting and dedication ceremony held at Bakersfield National Cemetery
ARVIN – Yesterday, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), Assemblymember Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) and Gold Star mothers and families from across the state gathered together at the Bakersfield National Cemetery in Arvin to honor and remember the fallen soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. Gold Star parents shared stories about their children who served and died for our country before planting a valley oak tree at the cemetery to memorialize those lost in war and the Gold Star families who live with their loss.
“We come together today to stand firmly with our Gold Star families to recognize their lost loved ones and keep them in our memory, never forgetting the cost of freedom,” said Assemblymember Salas. “It is a pain that those of us who have never experienced it will never fully understand. In sharing their stories and planting a tree in their honor, future generations will remember their ultimate sacrifice and keep them in our hearts forever.”
One of the Gold Star mothers in attendance who shared memories of her son was Karen Meredith, president of the American Gold Star Mothers Northern California Department. Meredith’s son, First Lieutenant Kenneth Ballard died in combat at the age of 26 while serving in Iraq in 2004.
“We all have a story. Each one of our Gold Star families here has a permanent hole in their hearts as large as our loved ones,” said Meredith. “While they were our heroes, they would probably not think of themselves as such. Because this tree will be marked and will stand forever, each generation will know and remember our sons and daughters.”
Assemblymember Dante Acosta, a Gold Star father, shared the story of his son Rudy who was tragically killed in Afghanistan in 2011 and spoke about the significance of the tree planting and ceremony.
“When my son, Rudy Acosta, was killed in Afghanistan, our family joined a club that I hope and pray no one ever has to join,” said Assemblymember Dante Acosta. “Losing him changed our lives forever. Honoring the ongoing sacrifice of the loved ones left behind is a tribute to the selflessness that our men and women in uniform display every day on our behalf.”
The Arvin High School JROTC led in the presentation of colors before a ceremonial laying of the wreath. The Associated Veterans of Kern County Honor Guard then performed a three-volley salute, followed by the playing of taps. The ceremony concluded with Gold Star families planting the tree together as a symbol of their lost loved ones. A Gold Star plaque to be placed near the tree will be unveiled at a future date.
Assemblymembers Salas and Acosta have jointly authored the resolution recognizing Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day for the last two years. Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day is observed on the last Sunday in September to recognize surviving military mothers and families and honor the legacy of service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.
# # #
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Avenal, Corcoran, Delano, Hanford, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.