Dozens honor and escort Gold Star Mother statue to Traverse City

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Northern Michigan is now home to the first Gold Star Mother statue in the state.

On Wednesday more than 100 motorcycles and law enforcement vehicles left Ludington, escorting the statue to Traverse City.

The procession passed through cities and townships like Manistee and Bear Lake where dozens showed their support.

“The procession was just amazing, there were people all along the route we had an escort by the Michigan State Police, people were honking their horns, waving,” said Vickie Hayes, a Gold Star Mother. “We are very blessed to live in this community with so much support and patriotism.”

Vickie Hayes and Rickie Hansen lost their son, Justin Hansen in Afghanistan in 2012.

Wednesday Hansen joined the dozens to escort the statue. He was riding his son’s motorcycle.

“With that bike, and that Gold Star Statue coming to Traverse City it gives me the feeling that my son is with us, I know he’s with us,” said Rickie Hansen.

The Coast Guard helicopter also escorted the monument once the procession arrived in Traverse City.

The monument is one of four in the nation that honors gold star mothers. It’s the only one in Michigan.

The statue is of a mother sitting on a bench cradling a folded American flag.

“I hope that people actually see the emotional grief that a mother feels and carries with her, a lot of people say well you look okay on the outside but on the inside, we are a total wreck,” said Starla Owens, a Gold Star Mother who lost her son in 2007 in Afghanistan. He was a specialist in the U.S. Army. " We never forget them."

“We don’t want our gold star families and our mother’s forgotten, we don’t want our heroes forgotten,” Owens said.

Starla is part of the Blue to Gold Star Mother’s group.

In eight months the organization raised more than $60,000 for the statue.

“Our veterans organization and the support of individuals, private donations, they made it possible,” Owens said.

“This is a place the gold star mothers and family can go to reflect,” said Calvin Murphy, a member of the Blue to Gold Star Mother’s Association, who organized the procession.

Murphy says the monument not only honors those who gave their lives, it serves as a place their families can go, and remember they're not alone.

The monument is now at the Grand Traverse Area Veterans Memorial Park.

The official unveiling of the statue this Sunday at 2:00 p.m..

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