With a combination of military protocol, the warmth and camaraderie of shared experiences, plus the added theme of “Color Yourself Colorado” hospitality, this year’s Gold Star Wives Grand Banquet lived up to its name for 250 attendees. The event, held at the Renaissance Denver Hotel on Saturday, July 13, was a fitting finale to the five-day, 68th annual Gold Star Wives national convention. A brief rain storm turned the hotel parking garage into a shallow Lake Renaissance for a bit, but that wasn’t enough to deter arriving guests, dressed up and ready for an enjoyable event.

The evening began with a cocktail reception and silent auction before the crowd adjourned to the ballroom for dinner. Gold Star Wives were escorted to their tables to by Young MarinesColorado Air Patrol Cadets, as well as friends and family members. Music was provided by the 101st Army Jazz Combo, from Buckley Air Force Base. United States Marines of the 453 Combat Logistics Battalion, also from Buckley AFB, presented the colors, and Jazmyn Gaylord (daughter of SSgt Gaylord, active duty, 743MI BN), sang the national anthem. Janet Snyder, GSWA national chaplain, led the invocation.

Emcee James Gillespie immediately shared his civilian status with the crowd, and admirably hosted the program without a hitch. Outgoing national president Jeanette Early gave a shout-out to Colorado hosts and reminisced about her term in office. NORAD commander, Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., and Brig. Gen. Robert W. Enzenaur, assistant adjutant general space, Colorado National Guard, also addressed the crowd and honored the Gold Star Wives in their talks. Special GSW quilts were presented to Wilma Turney, widowed since 1943, and Adri Loughmiller. The evening ended with award presentations and an installation for new national officers, including incoming GSWA president, Harriet Boyden.

Gold Star Wives of America is an organization of widows and widowers whose spouses lost their lives while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, or died as the result of a military service-connected disability. Gold Star Wives was formed during World War II, and Eleanor Roosevelt was a memberand one of the original 15 signers when the organization was incorporated in the State of New York in 1945. It is a nonprofit national military widows’ service organization chartered by the United States Congress.

The primary mission of Gold Star Wives is to provide service, support and friendship to these widows and widowers, also assisting survivors in understanding and obtaining benefits. The organization works with Congress, the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and other veterans’ service organizations to improve and enhance benefits for survivors.