Gold Star memorial marks one-year anniversary
Remembering fallen heroes keeps their stories alive
One year ago, the Northern Nevada community dedicated its first Gold Star Families Memorial to remember the sacrifices of people losing a loved one in military service to their country.
For others, time is measured in different increments.
Two days after his 22nd birthday, Army Spc. Nicholas P. Steinbacher died in Iraq while on night patrol near Baghdad on Dec. 10, 2006, after a roadside bomb exploded next to his Humvee. For Steinbacher’s parents Paul and Carolyn, though, time since their son’s death has been measured in one minute for the last 13 years, six months, 18 days.
“I realize that when some people hear that, they thinking that’s a long time,” said Carolyn Steinbacher, who spoke at Sunday’s one-year anniversary to mark the dedication of the Gold Star Families Memorial on the grounds of the Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks. “But for us, it’s only been a minute.”
Steinbacher, who lives in Minden, said she’s learned of the same feelings from other Gold Star families and hopes everyone learns what families face.
“We’re here to join in a common bond of not just the loss but for support and caring,” she said.
“This memorial and others dedicated in Nevada to the hundreds of fallen Marines, soldiers, sailors and airman allow communities to remember the sacrifices done in the name of freedom.”
Steinbacher said many people may be consumed with the day’s news, but she frequently encourages others to speak the names of the nation’s fallen heroes.
“By speaking of them keeps their stories going even after their lives have ended,” she said.
Nicholas Steinbacher joined the Army the day before Christmas in 2004 after attending the College of the Canyons for two years, and he felt it was his duty to serve because of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001,with hijacked passenger planes ramming into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, at Ft. Hood, Texas, and arrived in Iraq in October 2006.
Sharon Oren, co-founder of Nevada Gold Star Memorial, offered a perspective of the memorial and its dedication days before last year’s Fourth of July.
Medal of Honor recipients Donald “Doc” Ballard, a Navy corpsman who served during the Vietnam War, and Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, a retired Marine who displayed his heroism at Iwo Jima 75 years ago, attended the 2019 dedication. The nonprofit Hershel Woody Williams Congressional Medal of Honor Education Foundation, Inc., was established to honor Gold Star families who have lost a loved one in service to their country. Since that time, the foundation has worked with communities across the country to erect and dedicate Gold Star memorials.
Oren said Williams first established a Gold Star Families Memorial in his home state of West Virginia, and the mission is to establish memorials such as the one located in Sparks.
“This (the memorial) provides a place for Gold Star families to gather and utilize as they see fit,” Oren said. “These monuments belong to them and their fellow loved ones.”
With these memorials, Oren said, communities care for their Gold Star families and appreciate them. He said one of the goals of a Gold Star memorial is to educate the public — and the next generations —about their sacrifices of having a loved one die for their country.
After the speakers’ comments, veterans Jerome Washington and Greg Coliten walked past Patriot Guard Riders holding United States flags and placed a wreath of yellow flowers in front of the memorial, and others in attendance then placed roses along the base.