HonorGuardThe call to colors sounded at 0730 and the Combined Forces Honor Guard Team commanded by CMSgt Hosea Taylor U.S. Air Force hoisted the National Colors and Gold Star Banner to half-staff to begin the 2013 Let Freedom Ring ceremony.  Before a sparse crowd of patriots and a handful of Gold Stars and active duty soldiers, Gold Star Mothers Lynn Klasno, & Leann Graves began the reading of 177 names.

During the reading the Freedom Bell was rung 177 times as well by SSgt Manny Montanez, a Viet Nam Purple Heart recipient, a fitting honor for the soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines who lost their lives since last Father’s Day.

After the last KIA name was read the bell was rung one more time in honor of Sgt. Bowie Bergdahl  U.S. Army POW. With the Freedom Bell still echoing Bowie’s name the Rifle Detail fired a final salute. The Flag detail was ordered to raise the colors back to full staff and the bugler sounded Taps for one last time.

GSD_JonAshleyIt was an emotional event for some in attendance, Gold Star Dad Jon Ashley  emailed me this note on Sunday. “On behalf of my family and I, we want to thank you for your unselfish dedication to make the Let Freedom Ring ceremony a very special time for the Gold Star families. While I had reservation to attend, being it was the first Father’s Day without Joshua, I am glad I did.  I met a lot of nice people and it allowed me to pay my respects.  It really puts it in perspective when you hear the names being read.  Unfortunately there were too many I know all too well from the units Joshua worked with.”

The Let Freedom Ring ceremony was just the beginning of a wonderful day filled with old and new friends, great music and lots of food. I will report on the Gold Star Tribute Ride tomorrow so bookmark  this website.

I want to personally thank all the sponsors and volunteers who made this day possible and a special thanks to the photographers who provided coverage of this event;  Donald Kline from Examiner.com – Kirsten Thornton of Emma Rhys Photography in Menifee, CA and Louis Katz from Technolene.com.

Here is a link to Kirsten Thornton’s photoshttps://www.dropbox.com/sh/5fbkfuuy8q4eci0/PqF3N_iAXi

Here is a link to Louis Katz photoshttps://www.dropbox.com/sh/6v4ur4u998ejctu/X2nfngc8RJ

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