BOSSIER CITY, La. – Military couples are unique in both their love stories and in what they sacrifice in order to make their marriages work. One Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) Northwest Louisiana Veterans Home (NWLVH) knows this all too well.
Mary Edwards was born to a large, patriotic family in DeSoto Parish. She grew up with 11 siblings; four of which also served their country in the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy.
Edwards, who says she admired the women who served in the military, decided to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. She was stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
The Air Force is the lead agency for Joint Base San Antonio, comprising three primary locations at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, JBSA-Lackland, and JBSA-Randolph, plus eight other operating locations and 266 mission partners.
Edwards was stationed at JBSA-Randolph where she served as a flight line secretary when she was set up on a blind date that would forever change the course of her life.
It was on that date that she met USAF Pilot, George H. Edwards. The two Airmen would quickly fall in love and get married at which point she was honorably discharged and started a new chapter in her life.
The Edwards had three children, two boys and a girl, who they were devoted to and lovingly raised until the night that a phone call crumbled the world they once knew.
At the age of 35, George H. Edwards, died leaving his young widow to raise their newly recognized ‘Gold Star Family.’
The term “Gold Star” is used to describe a family member who has lost a loved one in military service. When you see someone wearing or displaying a gold star this shows that they have lost someone close and that this person died while serving their country.
Edwards says it was really hard to raise her family, and that well-meaning people never really knew what to say to her or her children after the loss of her husband.
Her advice to those that haven not carried this type of pain is for people to just, “show respect for our families.” She says that having people visit, ask about their loved one, and maybe bring a plate of food over to their house can also help ease the pain.
There are many organizations which honor Gold Star families or offer resources and assistance to those who have lost a service member. Operation Never Forget has a gold star program to honor and remember our fallen heroes and their family members. The National Gold Star Family Registry offers a searchable database for those who want to find service members who have died in service. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors program offers help, hope, and healing to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in America’s Armed Forces.
Edwards has lived at LDVA’s NWLVH for almost four years now and she absolutely loves the camaraderie, activities, and care that she receives at the Bossier City, La., home.
“You can’t beat it,” she exclaims of her time at NWLVH. “They have lots for us to do. I especially love playing BINGO and all of the performers that come visit us.”
She also recommends a life of service, especially the USAF, to future generations. “The military provides so many good opportunities and friendships that last lifetimes.”
When Edwards heard about LDVA’s Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Dedication Ceremony happening at the Louisiana Veterans Memorial Park on Sunday, Sept. 30, she was moved and grateful.
“I’m glad the state is recognizing Louisiana’s Gold Star Families and hope I get to see the memorial in person one day.”
The LDVA invites everyone to come out to support Louisiana’s Gold Star Families during this momentous occasion happening on National Gold Star Wives and Families Day.
To find out more about the Louisiana Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Dedication Ceremony, please call (225) 219-5005.