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‘With a mother’s heart’ Gold Star mom speaks at Memorial Day ceremony

June 1, 2018 – Gold Star mother Diana Pitts, of Leavenworth, Kan., added heartfelt reality at the Memorial Day Ceremony held on Monday, May 28 at the Clay Ray Veterans’ Hall.

Pitts is the mother of the late Corporal David M. Unger who was killed when an Improvised Explosion Device detonated near his vehicle on Oct. 17, 2006. He was serving with Headquarters, Company 1-22 4th Infantry Division, in Iraq. He was two weeks shy of his 22nd birthday. He was a husband, a father to two small children, and Pitts’ eldest child.

Following the death of her son, Pitts made the decision to spend Memorial Day helping others to heal.

“My son was a comedian,” she mentioned. “So, I try very hard to help to help others, and I hope I am doing that job.”

US Army Cpl. David Unger, KIA Iraq 2006

Pitts spoke of the depth of her own loss as a mother, but also reminded those who gathered to hear her that the loss of a serviceman or woman reverberates on many different levels, across ages and family lineage. She introduced her grandson, the child of Unger, who is growing up without his father.

She then introduced another Gold Star child, who had lost her father in the Vietnam War in 1970, Stacey Unzicker. She compared the two—one still a child, the other, just three years younger than herself. Yet the two are connected through a bond of loss, and of honor.

“So, although I speak from a mother’s heart, and a through a mother’s eyes, through my Gold Star mom’s eyes, I see the pain of children, the fathers, the siblings, who don’t have that connection anymore…we have the grandparents, who hold an important place in the hearts of our loved ones.” She then pointed to her own mother, Unger’s grandmother, who had a hand in his raising, she explained. “Every day, she remembers.”

She spoke then on whether or not Memorial Day is a “happy” occasion for her. Her answer was nuanced, balancing both the grief she feels over her loss, and the joy she feels in other aspects.

“A lot of people get upset when you say, ‘Happy Memorial Day.’ And I got to thinking about that. Am I happy? No way. Memorial Day is one more day out of 365 days that signifies that I don’t have my oldest child. I do not have my great uncle, who was the first KIA from the Leavenworth area in Korea. I don’t have the family members—23 of them that lay in Leavenworth National Cemetery and others across the country. Happy? No, not a happy day,” she said.

Still, she reflects on those parts of Memorial Day that do make her glad.

“I am happy that I had my son,” she said in a voice that shook with both pride and grief. “I am happy that he was able to touch so many lives. I’m happy, because I do see my second oldest son and my son-in-law, living and serving this great nation. Those things make me happy. I am honored to have those things in my life. I am honored to come here and see the support that you have for this day, and what it truly means. It is an honor to be an American.”

By Samantha Kilgore • samantha@leaderpress.com

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One Response to ‘With a mother’s heart’ Gold Star mom speaks at Memorial Day ceremony

  1. Joanne Lacey Reply

    June 19, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Thank you my dear Friend. This message is so dear to my heart, as you are. Also, thank you so much for all you do. You are very Special. You know me, but others don ‘t. I am a Viet Nam GSM, and Diana has shown her love and respect in so many ways to me and so many others. From the bottom of my HEART, thank you.

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