Gold Star Moms are mothers who have lost a son or daughter while they served in the military. In the United States, the last Sunday in September is Gold Star Mothers' Day.
Each year on Gold Star Mother's Day Americans are called to display the nation's flag and gather to publicly express their love, sorrow, and reverence for Gold Star Mothers and their families. The area mothers we talked to struggle with being a gold star mom every day of the year.
Katie Crowley lives in Slaton. Her son, Andrew Engstrom, was killed in the line of duty on July 4, 2007 while serving in Iraq.
"Andrew was the kindest, lovingest child you would want," she said. "He would give you the shirt off his back if he had to."
She was celebrating the 4th of July in Slaton when an army officer came up to her and asked if she could talk. They went on a car ride and that's when she first learned her son had been killed.
Andrew told his mom he wanted to serve in the armed forces in October 2005 and eventually became a radar operator.
"I tried to talk him out of it I'm not going to deny that," Crowley said.
Andrew was laid to rest in Post. All Katie wants is for his memory to remain alive.
"They're not just a statistic. They're a human being. Just remember them. If you see a Gold Star Mom don't come up to us and ask what I did to deserve a gold star. You don't want one. [But] it's not horrible to go up to a gold star family and talk about their loved ones. They love hearing stories. It's been five years for me and I still enjoy hearing from his battle buddies," Crowley said.
Brenda Robertson is a Gold Star Mom in Crosbyton. Her son, Ricky Salas, Jr., was deployed to Iraq on her birthday. Two months later she got the call no mother wants.
"The day I found out Ricky was killed was a hard day, it was one of the hardest days of my life and it has changed my whole life since then," Robertson said.
"He was driving a humvee. He had gone out on a mission he was not supposed to be on. He volunteered to go on that mission and he hit an IED and was killed," she said.
Brenda was a single mother. She described Ricky as the glue that held their family together.
"Ricky was an amazing son. He was the oldest of four boys and he loved family, he loved holidays and he loved special events. He would do anything for anybody," she said.
She feels that no one outside of the Gold Star Moms really understands her pain and the daily struggles she goes through.
"When we go to events together, we can talk to other mothers. We all tell stories, and we can express our feelings to each other," Brenda said.
All she wants people to do is let her know that they are there to help.
"Just to know that they support us and to realize that we still have a lot of soldiers over there still fighting for us... You know we haven't lost all of them yet and we still have a bunch and we need to pray for all those that they may return safely," Brenda said.
Every year the Gold Star Moms from around the country take a trip to Florida to connect and help one another out. This year Brenda is looking for a sponsor to send her to Panama City.