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Gold Star Families Remember Fallen Sons


COEUR d’ALENE – Rev. Bill Muck received the Gold Star Award on Friday for both his service to his country as an Air Force pilot and his post-military service to others as a chaplain.

But when he delivered the invocation for the Rotary Club of Coeur d’Alene, his focus was on offering words of comfort ahead of Memorial Day.

“Every name etched in stone, every name blowing in the wind, reminds us that our freedom was not free,” he said over lunch at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. “May we remember the words of John F. Kennedy, who once said this: ‘As our nation expresses its gratitude, may we never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.’

On National Poppy Day, small red flowers were displayed around the room as a colorful reminder of the fallen and the living who served the country.

Two Gold Star parents, Theresa Hart and John Goldsmith, shared their experiences of losing their sons in combat just days apart.

Nicholas Newby was 20 years old when he was killed in Iraq on July 7, 2011.

Theresa Hart said her son’s death motivated her to keep his spirit alive through Newby-ginnings, a Kootenai County nonprofit that serves veterans, active military and Gold Star families by providing basic needs and resources.

In 11 years, it has helped more than 6,000 families in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington.

“I am thrilled to be able to thank them for their service,” Hart said in an earlier press release.

John Goldsmith said that before his son, Wyatt, joined the Army and became a Green Beret, he and his wife, Lorie Goldsmith, struggled to get him to do chores around the house, but the discipline provided in the Army seemed to him to concentrate.

“We kept telling him to find something you wanted to do,” Goldsmith recalled.

His son enlisted in 2004 and completed special forces training in 2007.

The Goldsmiths followed Wyatt’s progress as he tested to become a special trooper and had to learn a language, in this case Mandarin, and decided to become a medic.

“The training is extreme and they are probably two of the toughest courses for the Green Berets and he has done them both. We were blessed. We were very proud of the things he accomplished,” Goldsmith said.

Wyatt died on July 15, 2011 in Afghanistan. He saved the life of an Afghan commando he served with, after saving the lives of two others. He was 28 years old.

When the goldsmiths received word that their son had died in the line of duty, they were shocked.

“Our whole concept of the world we lived in changed,” Goldsmith said.

When asked about the Gold Star on his car, Goldsmith notes that many people don’t know how much sadness and sacrifice the symbol represents.

He asked the crowd to tell others of all ages, but especially young people, so that the stories of sacrifice are passed on and the legacy of soldiers like his son continues.

“Our job is to make sure that the young people coming forward have an idea of ​​what this is all about,” Goldsmith said.

John Goldsmith looks up at a photo of his son, Wyatt Goldsmith, dressed in his military regalia, during a slideshow as part of a Memorial Day tribute honoring Gold Star families.
Theresa Hart tells stories about her son, Nicholas Newby, who was killed in Iraq on July 7, 2011. The talk took place during a Rotary Club address honoring Gold Star families prior to Memorial Day.
Rev. Bill Muck accepts an award for his invocations during a Rotary Club meeting.
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