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Children's sacrifice saluted
Medals awarded to fallen soldiers' children
0722 Gold medal 2
Thirty-two children of 3rd Infantry Division fallen heroes were honored during the Gold Medal of Remembrance ceremony. The medal honors the sacrifices of fallen soldiers and the families they leave behind. - photo by U.S. Army photo by Spc. Amanda McBride
The sons and daughters of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who died in the line of duty were honored Saturday night on Cottrell Field during a Gold Medal of Remembrance ceremony.
The medal honors children who have lost parents who served the nation during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The medal serves to remind all Americans of the sacrifices made to preserve liberty and the American way of life.
Seventeen families attended the ceremony and 32 children received medals from 3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo and his wife Ginger.
As the sun set, each family walked across the field to where the general and his wife stood. Cucolo draped the medals, hanging from purple ribbons, around the children’s necks.
Designed by the United States Institute of Heraldry, the medal represents optimism and high achievement and embodies the emotional riches gained from a close relationship with family and friends, according to a Fort Stewart press release. The flame symbolizes remembrance, hope and freedom. The laurel wreath is the ancient symbol of honor and victory. The golden flame within a star is the official emblem of the White House Commission on Remembrance.  The ribbon’s purple color represents the wounded hearts of the children who have endured the loss of a parent and the black line denotes reminiscence. Lastly, the red, white and blue represent the United States of America.
The ceremony also reflected upon the life experiences of military children. Their commitment and sacrifices make them special, not only for the varied skills they acquire, but for the tolerance they gained, Cucolo said.
“What you did learn are the values of human life and not to prejudge,” he said. “And, indirectly, because you’re a member of an Army family, you learned the golden rule more powerfully than
any teacher, any parent, could have taught you. You are more prepared for life than other people your age.”
Following the ceremony, Cucolo re-emphasized the unique character of military children and the life lessons they learn.
“I think that sort of life education makes people grow up very fast,” he said. “The children we honor here tonight, they have learned lessons in life that no one else their age has learned.”
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