LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT)- Earlier this month we reflected on the 16th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th. Since that day Kentucky has lost 120 military members protecting our freedoms. Their deaths leave behind what are called Gold Star families. Two Gold Star families are calling on others this weekend who share their same loss to join them for the dedication of a memorial honoring families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.
Marine Corporal Nich Dieruf and Air Force Captain Matthew Roland, two men who proudly served their country, but sadly died while doing so.
"Nich and I did not choose not to be together, it was something that was forced upon us when he was killed," said Emily Chambers.
Emily and Nich had only been married three months in 2004 when he was killed in Iraq. She has since remarried, but Nich's legacy remains part of her life and her family.
"Our children know Nich's name, it's a living name in this household," said Chambers.
Thirteen years later the Corporal Nich Dieruf Memorial Fund is still going, a partner with USA Cares. Since his death, Emily has been a champion for other military families, all of it for Nich.
"It was a promise I made to him after he was gone that we would not stop. His memory would not be forgotten and his sacrifice would not be forgotten," said Chambers.
Emily shares a special bond with other Gold Star families, loved ones who have lost a family member in active duty.
"We all kind of say we are all members of an exclusive club that we never wanted to be members of," said retired Colonel, Mark Roland.
Retired Colonel Mark Roland's pain is still fresh, his son Air Force Captain Matthew Roland was killed in Afghanistan in 2015.
"He loved what he was doing, believed in what he was doing and as I've found out since, he was pretty good at it and was really well respected," said Roland.
To help keep Matthew's memory alive, Roland and his wife wanted to reach out and do something for other Gold Star families.
"It's important to us I think to kind of stick together and to support each other," said Roland.
The Roland's idea, a memorial.
Through the help of friends, family and strangers they secured enough donations for a monument that will be dedicated this Sunday at Camp Nelson National Cemetery.
"It's honoring their loved ones, honoring those men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country," said Roland.
Two families, one painful bond-now coming together to honor others like them and the sacrifice their loved ones made for us all.
Gold Star families share a painful bond, but will now have a place to find peace with other.
The dedication of the new Gold Star Family Memorial will take place Sunday September 24, 2017 at 2pm at Camp Nelson National Cemetery. Because of privacy concerns it's hard to reach out to Gold Star families, so if you know a family both Roland and Chambers hope you will reach out and let them know this service is for them and invite them to attend.