St. John Properties, Inc. unveiled an original sculpture memorializing the on-going efforts of the Gold Star Mothers, a national group founded in 1928 and dedicated to providing support and resources to mothers who have lost children during military service. A ceremony involving members of the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) community including the Department of the Army civilians, veterans, and contractors; national, state and local politicians, Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD second district); local business leaders and civilians was held within The Government and Technology Enterprise (The GATE) inside APG.
The sculpture, which also recognizes all Gold Star Families, is positioned at the ‘Fallen Star’ Memorial that St. John Properties commissioned and dedicated at The GATE last fall, in honor of Major General Harold (Harry) J. Greene, as well as all United States warfighters who gave their lives in service to the Nation, and their families. Major General Greene was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 2014 during Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan while serving as the Deputy Commander of Combined Security. A highly decorated soldier, among his previous responsibilities was deputy commanding general of United States Army Research, Development and Engineering Command at APG.
“The Gold Star Mothers statue complements the existing ‘Fallen Star’ Memorial and incorporates a powerful and emotional human feel to the site,” said Edward St. John, Chairman of St. John Properties. “The concept is in recognition of the important efforts of these women, both locally and nationally, that work tirelessly to help others that have endured similar losses and tragedy. Our intent was to create memorials that pay tribute to and honor all fallen heroes, along with their families, who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedom and our country. Nothing can replace the void left by a fallen service member. But we can preserve their memories and honor the work of support organizations with the placement of these sculptures at Aberdeen Proving Ground. May the Nation never forget that freedom isn’t free.”
The Gold Star Mothers name evokes the custom of families of servicemen to hang a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes, a tradition that started during World War I. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star. On the last Sunday in September, Gold Star Mother’s Day is observed in the United States in their honor.
“Our group was deeply moved and touched when first learning about this effort to honor moms and families, and to recognize that there is a family connected to each fallen hero,” explained Janice Chance, President and Chaplain of the Gold Star Mothers, Maryland Chapter. “The sculpture will serve as a constant visual reminder that freedom is not free, and that it came at a cost. We are especially appreciative to St. John Properties for initiating this special project to honor and remember the moms. It expresses the thought that moms have not been forgotten. Our children have made the ultimate sacrifice, but we sacrificed as well, and we strive to continue the legacy of our children.”
The sculpture was also created to honor and pay tribute to Gold Star Families, consisting of relatives of United States Armed Forces members who died in battle or in support of certain military activities. To honor their memory, The Department of Defense presents immediate family members of fallen servicemen and women with a flag with a gold star, or a lapel pin with a gold star.
St. John Properties commissioned Will Hemsley, a painter and sculptor who lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, to design and fabricate the Gold Star Mothers sculpture. The artist, along with his Father Tilghman Hemsley, also created the ‘Fallen Star’ Memorial. “The placement of the Gold Star Mother sculpture provides a complement to the symbolic nature of the ‘Fallen Star’ Memorial, which was erected in honor of our wounded warriors and those who gave their lives in defense of our nation,” explained Will Hemsley said. “Our vision for this sculpture was to create a work that was not merely a physical representation of a Gold Star Mother, but something that conveyed a wide array of emotion and symbolism. Contained within her expression, posture and poise are the very elements that make up the Gold Star Mother’s expression of ‘Honor Through Service.’”
The Government and Technology Enterprise (The GATE at APG) is a 416-acre, state-of-the-art office and technology business park located immediately inside the main entrance to Aberdeen Proving Ground. Over the anticipated 10-year buildout of The GATE project, St. John Properties is developing the park to lease to government sector and non-sector users. The Baltimore-based commercial real estate company also has the option to locate future buildings outside or inside APG’S secure perimeter. For more information about The GATE at APG, visit www.TheGateApg.com