Gold star families reflect on their departed loved ones ahead of Memorial Day


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Several Gold Star families joined NBC4 and Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers to thank the families and reflect on their loved ones ahead of Memorial Day.

Army Specialist Joey Riley, who went to Grove City High School, died November 2014. Riley was killed in Afghanistan three days before he coming home.

His parents say he lived to be athletic and made his mark as a remarkable student-athlete. His parents cleaned up his grave site for Memorial Day, a day when Americans remember fallen service men and women.

“I’ve had people say, ‘Well Memorial Day must be really hard,’ but in reality it’s the best weekend of the year because we know that they’re remembered,” said Michelle Riley, the mother of Joey Riley.

James Kimball died while serving in 2008, and his parents were also thankful Congressman Stivers spent time to remember their son’s service and ultimate service. His parents shared a story with Stivers about their son who loved animals.

“He loved animals. He was staying with some friends for awhile and found a duck, a baby duck and it seemed abandoned so he took it home, put it in the bathtub and the duck followed him everywhere thinking this was really his mom,” James’ mother said.

Stivers thanked all of the Gold Star families for their service adding that while their soldiers served, we were kept safe.

Stivers gave them each his cell phone number and asked them to keep in touch.

Stivers ended the virtual call with a poem of service, dedication and sacrifice.

“it’s the soldier, not the reporter whose given us the freedom of the press,” Stivers read from the poem. “It’s the soldier, not the poet whose given us freedom of speech. It’s the soldier, not the campus organizer whose given us freedom to protest. It’s the soldier, not the lawyer whose given us the right to a fair trial.”

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