‘They Were Our Fathers’ – a film by Gold Star daughter Jill Hubbs

‘They Were Our Fathers’ – a film by Gold Star daughter Jill Hubbs

“They were all serving our nation…answering the call to duty in the Vietnam War. Their lives were cut short. These men left behind their families and friends to grieve their loss… Their stories are powerful testimonies about the true cost of war.” – Jill Hubbs, Executive Producer, and Gold Star Daughter (pbs.org/veterans/stories-of-service)

More than 20,000 American children lost their dads in Vietnam.

They Were Our Fathers shares their stories, as told by members of Sons and Daughters in Touch—a group formed in 1990 to locate, unite and support Gold Star children who lost their fathers in service during the Vietnam War.

They gather in the nation’s capital on Father’s Day to honor their fathers, reflect on their common grief and support one another, as no one else can.

They Were Our Fathers is presented by WSRE.

Watch the full program below and share your personal story at wsre.org/fathers.


The Children of 9/11…from CBS News

The Children of 9/11…from CBS News

NEW YORK — While the rituals remain the same, how we keep 9/11 in our hearts and heads is still a work in progress — not just because of the loved ones lost that day, but because of the more than 3,000 children they left behind.

For years, the kids had their stories told for them. Now, they are telling their own.


Delaney Colaio


Delaney Colaio, who was 3 years old on 9/11, lost her dad and two uncles that day. A documentary she worked on called “We Go Higher” interviews 70 of the kids who lost parents.

“It’s a healing process for us and for other people to see that no matter what tragedy brings in your life that you can write your own story and you don’t have to let that event define you,” she said.

The story Jillian Suarez is writing is part tribute to her dad, NYPD officer Ramon Suarez. Jillian was just 9 when he was killed at ground zero helping people get to safety.


Jillian Suarez


“I missed father/daughter dances, I missed 16 years worth of Father’s Days. It is very hard,” she said.

Jillian is now 25 and soon to enter the Police Academy to follow in her father’s heroic footsteps.

“I want to be there if anybody needs me,” she said. “Just like he was. He never hesitated, and I would never hesitate to help anybody either.”

If how we remember is a process that never stops evolving, so, too, is how the children of 9/11 inspire.


SDIT, Other Groups Join Call for Support of All Gold Star Families

SDIT, Other Groups Join Call for Support of All Gold Star Families

August 1, 2016 (Updated August 2, 2016)

To the military and veterans communities, nothing is more sacred or honored than the families of those who are grieving the death of their fallen military hero, a member of our armed forces who has died while serving their country.

More than a hundred years ago, the President of the United States wrote reverently to a grieving military mother, “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

Regardless of religion, race, or creed, their sacrifice, the loss of a family member is unimaginable. Their loved one’s body is laid to rest under the American flag, in our national cemeteries, and their death is honored and remembered each Memorial Day by a nation grateful for their service.

In 2004, United States Army Captain Humayan Khan was killed by a suicide bomber when he rushed forward to protect his soldiers and nearby civilians.  As with so many families across the United States, the loss and sacrifice of the Khan family have earned them the right to ask hard questions of all those seeking elected office, whether at the local, state or national level.

As Republican, Democratic, and Independent military, veterans, family members and survivors, we ask that all candidates, at all levels, demonstrate the character demanded of the offices they seek and respect not only those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom but also their families who have borne such a loss to protect our liberties.

Again in the words of Abraham Lincoln as he spoke to a nation divided by a great civil war, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”

Thank you all for honoring America’s fallen heroes by respecting their families.


Blue Star Families bridges the gap between military family communities and the general public. Through partnerships, Blue Star Families provides free resources, services, and opportunities to more than 1.5 million military family members—making military life more sustainable.

Give an Hour is a national nonprofit organization that provides free mental health care to those who serve, their families and their communities. Since 2005 Give an Hour has harnessed the generosity and expertise of mental health professionals across the country to provide over 192,000 hours of free care and support to members of the military, our veterans and the families of the fallen.

Gold Star Wives members are the widows/widowers whose spouses died while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, or as a result of service-connected disabilities. Members of Gold Star Wives appear before various House and Senate Committees on issues concerning compensation, educational benefits, medical care and other programs pertaining to the welfare of military survivors.

Got Your 6 believes that veterans are leaders, team builders, and problem solvers who have the unique potential to lead a resurgence of community across the nation. Got Your 6 unites nonprofit, Hollywood, and government partners to integrate these perspectives into popular culture, engage veterans and civilians together to foster understanding, and empower veterans to lead in their communities.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors has cared for the families of America’s Fallen Heroes since 1994, through programs and services that meet the needs of all those grieving the death of a military loved one. Support includes the 24/7 National Military Survivor Helpline; retreats, camps and survivor weekends for all who are grieving; connections to community-based care; and a national network of peers.

Travis Manion Foundation engages with veterans and families of the fallen in all stages of their personal journeys and offers them unique opportunities to empower them to achieve their goals. TMF believes that the best way to honor the fallen is by challenging the living. TMF challenges veterans and survivors to lead the “If Not Me, Then Who…” movement and inspire others to continue the service to community and country exemplified by the nation’s fallen heroes.

Sons and Daughters In Touch is a 27-year-old non-profit organization committed to locating, uniting and supporting the Gold Star ‘sons and daughters’ whose fathers were among the 58,315 American servicemen lost in the Vietnam War. The fathers of SDIT’s members served at every rank in every branch of the United States military; fought in every battle during our nation’s involvement in SE Asia; and are now remembered on every panel of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Today, SDIT has impacted the lives of nearly 5000 Gold Star ‘sons and daughters.’

The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. Our operations in cities across the country deploy veteran volunteers alongside non-profit partners and community leaders to solve some of the most challenging issues facing our communities: improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. Through this unique model, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate into life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve.

Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit founded in 2006 dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family, and hope for post 9/11 veterans, service members and military families. Since its inception, Hope For The Warriors has served approximately 10,000 through a variety of support programs focused on transition, health and wellness, peer engagement and connections to community resources. The nonprofit’s first program, A Warrior’s Wish, has granted 151 wishes to fulfill a desire for a better quality of life or support a quest for gratifying endeavors. In addition, Run For The Warriors has captured the hearts of more than 22,000 since 2010.

Women Veterans Interactive (WVI) is a national nonprofit organization formed in 2011 to meet women veterans at their points of need through advocacy, empowerment, interaction, and unification (AEIOU). Because every woman veteran is unique, WVI programs are distinctly designed to address the specific needs of the emergent women veterans’ population. Since inception in 2011, WVI has supported over 1,300 women veterans and women in the military.

Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America was founded in 1896 and is one of the oldest active veterans’ organizations in America. JWV is dedicated to upholding America’s democratic traditions and fighting bigotry, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination of all kinds. As a national organization, JWV represents the voice of America’s Jewish veterans on issues related to veterans’ benefits, foreign policy, and national security. JWV also commits itself to the assistance of oppressed Jews worldwide.

Families Gather for the Cleaning of The Wall

Families Gather for the Cleaning of The Wall

Stars and Stripes: A wash to honor fathers’ sacrifice
Families gather for a cleaning of the Wall

By Heath Druzin

Stars and Stripes
Published: June 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — For years, Patty Lee didn’t speak about her father; her mother never discussed him with her six children.

But Sgt. 1st Class Delbert C. Totty hadn’t done anything wrong. The unspoken truth was that he was killed in action in Vietnam when Lee was 12 years old.

“We all grew up in silence,” Lee said of a generation of children whose fathers died in a war many wanted to forget. “We didn’t talk about Vietnam, we didn’t talk about our fathers.”

It’s difficult to fathom in this age of solemn homages to troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and warm welcomes when they come home safely, but for the children of Vietnam veterans, the fate of their fathers was often a dark secret.

Lee, now 60, didn’t have a chance to grieve for 25 years until 1992, when a new group, Sons and Daughters in Touch, organized a gathering at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., for children of troops lost in the war. For many like Lee it was the first time they met others with similar stories — the first time they didn’t feel alone.

The 1992 gathering sparked what became a regular Father’s Day weekend tradition for survivors, many of whom didn’t find their voice until they had outlived their fathers, long after the war was over.

On Saturday, more than two decades after that initial meeting, in the murky light of a cloudy early morning, the polished granite of the memorial wall reflected the images of more than 100 people — some using walkers, others still with braces on their teeth, many carrying brushes and buckets of soapy water. Pointing to one of the 58,000 names on the wall, they recalled a loved one.

It was the beginning of a weekendlong event organized by Sons and Daughters in Touch and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for survivors to coincide with Father’s Day. There will be a public ceremony at the memorial on Sunday beginning at 10 a.m.

All these years later, meeting at the wall is still an emotional event even for regular attendees.

“It’s very personal,” Lee said, choking up as she prepared to wash the wall Saturday.

Now, the children of the fallen bring their own children to wash the wall together. It is about much more than lending a hand to the National Park Service. It is a symbolic gesture that for many is the only chance they had to do something for their father.

“This is more about the catharsis,” said Sons and Daughters In Touch co-founder Tony Cordero, whose father, Air Force Maj. William E. Cordero, was killed in Vietnam.

Colleen Shine washed the wall with her son, Matthew Luepke, 10, and her daughter, Chiara Luepke, 12. They were washing the panel that bore the name of Shine’s father, Lt. Col. Anthony C. Shine. Growing up, she experienced the additional pain of missing her father and not knowing his fate. He was considered missing in action for 24 years after his plane went down near the Vietnam-Laos border in 1972.

The uncertainty gnawed at Shine and her family — she said her mother “didn’t know if she was a wife or a widow.” So Shine spent years pursuing the truth about her father’s fate, a journey that led her to Vietnam in 1995, no easy trip in the days before the two countries normalized relations.

After navigating the Communist country’s bureaucracy and a journey deep into the countryside near the Laos border, she found a villager who had a helmet that matched the description of the helmet her father was supposed to have worn on his final flight. When she turned it over, she saw his name handwritten on the inside.

For Shine, 50, the most important part of the wall washing is the lessons for her children, who never got to meet their grandfather.

“What it’s about is teaching them the issues of war so we’ll not have to repeat them,” Shine said. “Seeing my children clean the wall and seeing our reflections is a reminder that we are the living legacies of that wall.”


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