“Gold Star Ride” Stops In Chattanooga On Wednesday

Marine Vet On 2,800-Mile Cross-Country Bike Trip Saluting Fallen Troops

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jennifer Marino spent 15 years serving her country in the Marine Corps. The avid cyclist met a member of American Gold Star Mothers (AGSM) is an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of their country. 

“She said her biggest fear was that her son's memory would be forgotten. I wondered how many other families have this same concern. At that time, I was looking for a way to connect my cross-country bike ride with a bigger purpose, so I decided to dedicate it to fallen heroes,” said Ms. Marino “But I didn't think that simply saying I was riding in their honor was really going to have an impact, so I reached out to this mother and asked her if she thought Gold Star families would be interested in sharing their stories with me as I crossed the country.”

Ms. Marino was put in contact with the National President of the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. The organization agreed to let her write a letter to their membership, which was sent out via email and published in their hard copy news letter. Ms. Marino included her contact info and encouraged families to email me if they were interested in being part of this project. As a result, she has now mapped out more than 100 families across the country where she will stop on her 77-day, 2,800-mile journey to visit and then blog and post Facebook entries about their stories. She departed Camp Pendleton in California on Aug. 10, and will complete her trip with a visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps on Oct. 25.

Ms. Marino will visit a family in Athens, Tn., on Tuesday, and complete a rest stop in Chattanooga on Wednesday. She is also meeting with families in Nashville and Knoxville.

“The families seem to be universally grateful that someone who didn't know their loved one still wants to talk to them and hear their stories,” she said. “They appreciate the opportunity to share about the people they lost, because this is how they keep the memory of their loved ones alive. They tell me this project means a lot to them, and they can't believe I'm crossing the country on my bike to honor their loved ones.” 

The ride has been both a challenge and a great joy, said Ms. Marino. “Finding enough hours to accomplish everything that goes into a day in the life on this trip can sometimes be difficult,” she said. “I planned and coordinated the entire thing myself, including my visits with families, my riding routes, lodging, and I'm also the one responsible for my bicycle maintenance. My Facebook posts take me about 90 minutes to put together, and I spend several hours with families each day—not to mention riding 50 miles. But I am where I want to be right now and doing what I want to be doing. These families' stories are amazing, and I want more people to know about them.  

Donations, which go to both support Ms. Marino’s ride and to the Gold Star families, can be made at www.goldstarride.com. Follow Ms. Marino’s progress and hear the families’ stories on www.facebook.com/goldstarride.

"Gold star mothers" is a term that came into general use with the creation of the service flags used to show that a family had a son in the service (a blue star) or a son that had died in the service (a gold star almost covering the blue star so that a rim of blue still shows). A group of gold star mothers met in 1928 and formed the organization American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.  AGSM is a private organization and you must apply for membership if to join. AGSM is a non-profit, 501 C (3), organization and as such cannot engage in political or lobbying activities. The organization takes no position on political issues of the day but does support the military and has many activities that reflect that support. Officials said, "AGSM is not directly connected with any other organizations but we do communicate with similar organizations, which share our purpose."



La Paz Chattanooga En La Mesa Luncheon Set For Feb. 22

The next La Paz Chattanooga En La Mesa Luncheon will be held on Monday, Feb. 22, at noon at the Edney Building. The topic for this En La Mesa luncheon is higher education accessibility for Latinos. During this luncheon, a panel of representatives will share about their knowledge and experience dealing directly with this subject.   The panelists include:  Camila ... (click for more)

“Love It, Don’t Trash It” Campaign Launched To Keep Dalton And Whitfield Beautiful

This month Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful is launching an educational campaign, titled “Love It, Don’t Trash It” aimed at providing residents with actions they can take to help prevent litter in their community. Residents can share how they’re showing their community some love on social media using the hashtag #LiveLitterFree. "Litter is a growing issue in the Dalton ... (click for more)

Charges Will Not Be Filed Against Officers In Javario Eagle Case

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston said Wednesday he will not file charges against the six Chattanooga Police Department officers involved in the Dec. 12, 2015, fatal shooting of Javario Eagle.  His office said, "An investigation conducted by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office found use of deadly force by officers Lorin Johnston, Allen Griffith, Tim McFarland, Mitchell ... (click for more)

Medal Of Honor Museum Hopes To Finally Find Permanent Home At Coolidge Park

Officials of the National Medal of Honor Museum said Wednesday they hope to finally find a permanent home at Coolidge Park. Bill Raines said it is planned to build a two-story, 6,800-square-foot domed museum on two acres at the park. It will be dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient Charles H. Coolidge, who is now 94. There will be a sculpture of Mr. Coolidge - for whom the ... (click for more)

What Our Schools Are And Have Been Doing About Bullying

Bullying has been a widely discussed topic during the last few weeks in the wake of the incident involving the Ooltewah High basketball team.  Contrary to public opinion, Hamilton County Schools have not been passive in our efforts to address bullying now or for the past several years.  Unfortunately, bullying is a societal norm that is infiltrating our school community, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Grab The Reaching Hand

Three of Tennessee’s largest four cities are now searching for school superintendents. Jesse Register retired last June and, after botching the first attempt, Nashville city leaders are intensely helping the Board of Education in a search for the best candidate. In Knoxville and Chattanooga the superintendents have resigned, both under a cloud, and now the leaders of the ‘2.0’ initiative ... (click for more)