NBC Montana: Montana Gold Star families honored in Bozeman

The ninth annual memorial ceremony at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman attracted a big crowd and hosted 70 different Gold Star family members from across the state.

“We have many Gold Star families here — families who live every day with the pain of the loss of their loved one,” said Sen. Steve Daines.

For Ladena Hall, a Gold Star mother, moments like these mean everything to her.

“This is something that shows us that our sons and daughters are not forgotten, that people will remember them even if it’s once a year, they’ll come out to celebrate and honor what we sacrificed,” said Hall.

There were 20 fallen Montana service members remembered with special medallion coins presented to the families and single yellow roses left in their honor.

Mary Dugan’s son, Kyle, was only 20 years old when he enlisted in Afghanistan, narrowly escaping death while abroad only to die in an automobile accident two months later back in the U.S.

Dugan says whether killed abroad while in action or at home it’s all the same.

“When they get killed in action it’s even harder, because those are the ones that truly sacrificed, but even though there are other ones that are killed in active duty and didn’t get killed in combat, they’re still sacrificing every day of their life, because they are on duty 24/7,” said Dugan.

The memorial service is a community effort made possible by local Bozeman businesses that provide free transportation and hotel rooms to the families, helping them come together.

“I get to be with my Gold Star families, which all help us get through the roughest time of our lives, which is the ultimate sacrifice, of course,” said Dugan.