BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Joey Strickland along with other LDVA leaders gathered at the Gold Star Monument in the Louisiana Veterans Memorial Park Saturday for the annual Gold Star Mothers and Families Recognition Ceremony.

“No war has come to our shores in many generations and these men and women who gave their lives are the reason why,” said Ruth Reed, a Gold Star mother.

The annual Gold Star ceremony honors the families of those who have lost a loved one in the line of duty. It serves as a reminder that our fallen soldiers may never be forgotten.

“I realized that the story doesn’t end with the sacrifice of their loved ones on the battlefields. It continues with them. The families of those soldiers left behind,” said Strickland.

Emotions filled the air as families talked about how much their loved ones meant to them. Blue Star mothers, women who have dedicated their time to helping grieving Gold Star mothers, were the sponsors and gave them their flowers.

Families got a moment to voice the last day their loved one was alive.

Strickland said these ceremonies bring another level of appreciation for those who severed with purpose.

“Every citizen of Louisiana needs to understand and appreciate the sacrifice that their freedom comes with. In other words, freedom is not free,” said Strickland.