MILLINOCKET – It’s never easy losing a loved one, especially when they are killed in war. The Summit Project is looking to unite Gold Star families this Memorial Day weekend to honor their loved ones who have served in the military.
“It’s our duty to carry on what they can’t do,” said Jason Heft, captain of the Summit Riders, “To be here for their families that they can’t be here for anymore.”
Pictures in loving memory of soldiers that fought for the American people stand out in an open field. These warriors served in many branches coming from all over Maine. Some were dads, sisters and friends, but all were sons and daughters.
“The loss that we have felt when we lost Justin – the news,” said Beth Copp, a Gold Star family member, “You never ever forget. You never forget when you heard it or where you were.”
It’s a burden they carry since receiving the horrendous news of their loved one passing away. While their heart strings have come undone, it’s not something they have to bear alone.
“There’s a hole in these families lives that cannot be filled. That is a gap that, no matter how hard we work, or whatever work we do, it won’t be filled,” David Cote, founder of The Summit Project said, “But we can at least create an environment that is safe, where there’s community and fellowship. We love one another and this is what this is all about as a community – trying to give it all back.”
“We lose a piece of who you are. There’s a void that can never be filled because a life has been taken away from you,” said Copp, “But if you just trust and feel the love, you know that they’re never gone.”
The Summit Project united Gold Star families and people who are affected by the loss of a fallen solider together in Millinocket. These brave warriors have their own mission and that’s to make sure their loved ones are never forgotten.
“The greatest joy is sharing the life that their member, their service member sacrificed,” said Copp, “But the life they lived as well.”
With heavy hearts and backpacks, they are traveling this rocky road together in silence. They reflect on the names of those that passed engraved on stones learning about their stories to share to others, ensuring that they live on forever.
“My little brother will never be forgotten,” said Antoinette Demers, a Gold Star family member, “‘Maine’s heroes are not forgotten’ is a true slogan. Honestly, it’s the family you don’t want to need but when you need it, there is no one better.”
The weekend event started with bikers riding from Portland to Millinocket, The Summit Project participants are coming together to pay tribute to and learn more about some of Maine’s post 9/11 fallen soldiers.
“If we take the time to learn about the lives, if we really take and dedicate some time and find out who they were as Mainers, as sisters, brother, you know, small business owners, students, we’re going to find some pretty powerful and tremendous examples of how to live life and treat one another,” said Cote.
If you want to get involved with The Summit Project, click HERE.