Gold Star Mother moves forward

By: 
MARGE CHRISTIANSON, American Legion Auxiliary Volunteer

Photo courtesy Ginger Emerson
The sketch of Ginger Emerson’s son, Army Corporal Matthew J. Emerson, was a gift from a friend.

Sun City resident Ginger Emerson is a Gold Star Mother. Unlike the “gold stars” we received for academic achievement as children, Gold Star Mother status is something every military mother dreads.

Her son,  U.S. Army Cpl. Matthew J. Emerson, was killed less than a month before his 21st birthday in Mosul, Iraq. He had just received welcomed news:  he would be coming home for Christmas. Instead, Cpl. Emerson was killed in action Sept. 18, 2007.

“I am left with feelings that are 50 percent deep, unyielding sadness and 50 percent deep, unyielding pride,” Emerson said in a recent interview.

She described her amazement and pride in the patriotic strength of the people of the United States — a strength she had not recognized previously.

“You don’t hear about it in the news, but it’s there. The support I received following Matthew’s death enlightened me,” Emerson said.

No stranger to the military, Emerson was a Junior member of the American Legion Auxiliary as a young girl, qualifying through her World War II father and World War I grandfather. Living in Grandview, Wash., she and her husband, L.J., raised three children including Matt — a son who she described as a “GI Joe kid.” Emerson enlisted in the Army before he graduated from high school and left that summer for basic training at Fort Benning, GA. “He had a passion for God and country and always knew that that was what he wanted to do” said Ms. Emerson. After graduating from Basic Training and Advanced Infantry Training, Matt earned his Airborne Wings by completing U.S. Army Jump School.  He was then shipped to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.  From there, he was deployed with the 2/7 CAV to Iraq in 2006 and was killed less than one year later.

Emerson discovered and joined the American Gold Star Mothers organization shortly after. American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. (AGSM) is an organization of mothers whose sons and daughters served and died while on active duty in the armed forces of the United States of America, or died as a result of such service, or were missing in action.

At its national convention in Long Beach, Calif., in June, AGSM elected Emerson to their National Executive Board as Flag Bearer. Her first assignment was to join other board members and attend National Gold Star Mothers weekend in Washington, D.C., an event held annually the last weekend of September. She participated in many activities hosted by AGSM.

On Saturday, along with other Gold Star Mothers, Emerson participated in a 2.2 mile Veteran Suicide Awareness Walk-A-Thon around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, risk for suicide is 22 percent higher among veterans when compared to U.S. non-veteran adults. Particularly startling is that risk for suicide is 2.5 times higher among female veterans when compared to U.S. non-veteran adult women. The walk concluded with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

On Sunday, there was a special wreath-laying by AGSM National President Becky Christmas and her family at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. That event was followed by the Gold Star Commemoration Ceremony on the Amphitheater Lawn. Dressed in Gold Star Mom white, Emerson was honored to be the Flag Bearer at that ceremony. 

“I was honored to be part of such a wonderful event. But perhaps the best part of the weekend was that one of Matthew’s platoon buddies was able to attend some of the events with us,” Emerson said.

In addition to being a Gold Star Mother, Emerson is a member of the John J Morris American Legion Auxiliary Unit 62 in Peoria. The unit has been awarded the top national Auxiliary award for its efforts in meeting the needs of active military, veterans, families and youth. At a national level, American Legion Auxiliary members have dedicated themselves for nearly a century to meeting the needs of our nation’s veterans, military, and their families here and abroad. They volunteer millions of hours yearly, with a value averaging $2 billion each year.  ALA volunteers across the country also step up to honor veterans and military through annual scholarships and with ALA Girls State programs, teaching high school juniors to be leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism.

To learn more about the Auxiliary’s mission or to volunteer, donate, join or partner with the Auxiliary, visit www.AZPost62.com or email at ALAunit62AZ@gmail.com.

The Glendale Star

The Glendale Star
7122 N. 59th Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013
Terms of Service

Email Us

Facebook

Peoria Times

Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013

Terms of Service

Email Us

Facebook

Please Login for Premium Content