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"They Shall Live": A New Connecticut Movie About Gold Star Mothers [Video]

As Memorial Day approaches, a Connecticut production crew is fundraising to produce a movie about Gold Star mothers — women who lost a son or daughter at war. Read on to see how you can help them achieve their worthy goal.

The price that war can exact on a battlefield can be horrible and has been well-documented in many ways.

The toll that war can take on the home front, however, has been given less emphasis over the years, particularly the heartbreak of a parent losing a son or daughter in war. Nick Forte, Ryan McNamara and Lucien Lafreniere aim to change that with the production of a 90-minute documentary titled "They Shall Live" detailing the history of an organization known as the Gold Star Mothers.

Started in Washington, D.C., in 1928 by Hartford native Grace Darling Seibold, who lost her son, George Vaughan Seibold, in World War I, the organization is a support group that enables mothers who have lost a son or daughter in war to meet and share their common experiences. The organization, whose name is derived from the wartime custom of hanging a banner in the window of a home with a servicemember at war, has many local chapters throughout the nation. The presence of a blue star on the banner means that someone is on active duty. The presence of a gold star represents a death in war. The organization is often socially active in supporting servicemen and their families but strives to remain non-political. The group now has about 950 members nationwide.

The website for the movie — theyshalllive.com — contains a moving video introduction to the movie, beginning with an interview of Mary Kight, Connecticut Department Chair of American Gold Star Mothers. Kight lost her son, Michael, during the Vietnam War, on May 19, 1967. Vietnam veteran Alfred Comeau also appears in the video to reflect on the loss of his son in war. Both give moving accounts of the effects on their lives. As you might imagine, the price of such a loss is immense.

The director-producer team of Nick Forte and Lucien Lafreniere teamed up last year to create the documentary "Eleven," a film that interviews a wide variety of service personnel who are veterans of various wars. There are links at the aforementioned website to lead you to a viewing of "Eleven." It's worth a look.

According to Nick Forte, the initial fundraising campaign for the film has begun. There are links at the website to make a donation for the film. The donations are made to a 503c organization and are, therefore, tax deductible. In addition, various gifts are associated with different levels of financial support for the film. Details can be found on the website.

So far over $12,000 has been raised. Ryan McNamara believes that total production costs will approach $250,000, so he is organizing several fundraising events. A live fundraiser will be held at Waterbury City Hall on July 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. It is a dress-up social affair with food provided and a keynote speaker who is a Congressional Medal of Honor winner. In addition, an auction will be held concurrently that night to raise money for the movie. Anyone or any business willing to donate a service or goods for the auction may contact the production crew through an email link provided at the website.

It is obvious from talking to both Forte and McNamara that they have great enthusiasm and passion for their pending production. Their plan is to shoot their footage from August till about Nov. 1st. Then the editing phase will begin in earnest. The goal then will be to have a rough cut done by early 2013,with the finished product soon to follow.

If you would like to read more about this project or make a tax-deductible donation, please click on this link:
www.theyshalllive.com.

Phil Morneault May 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM
The post is a good timely reminder of why we have a Memorial Day. The losses of those who have "given their all" continue to affect families for years. May the RIP and may the Gold Star families find comfort in memories of their loved ones.
William D. Chiodo May 24, 2012 at 02:28 PM
The Gold Star Mothers are a much admired group. They are joined by the Gold Star Wives in our much deserved tribute. A more forgotten group in honoring the War Dead are the American World War II Orphans Network (too which I belong). The orphans from WW II are estimated to number 183,000. Our group numbers about 800 countrywide.
Amy Reay May 24, 2012 at 03:46 PM
This is a wonderful plan to shed light on the families left behind when sons and daughters choose to serve our country. I admire the courage these parents have to be able to let them go, and admire their strength to carry on after they've lost their child to the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you those who have served and to the families who endure.
Ellie Fredrickson May 24, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I just saw the trailer of sorts for this project and it looks like a $1,000,000 film. Its so refreshing to see young people tackling a subject with such depth. Being patriotic and tackling subjects about our country and its recent history has gotten a bad rep as of late because most of this country's well known patriotic citizens are conservative spinsters. I believe in this film and I just pledged my $100. Mark my words Connecticut, we'll be seeing this young man at the Oscars.
Dr Gary Farwell May 25, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I agree 100% with Ellie. This film will be a lovely tribute to the Gold Star Mothers who have sacrificed so much for the nation. They gave a son or daughter who died while serving in the military. During WWII Mrs Alleta Sullivan gave five sons when the USS Juneau sank. Many Americans and almost all news commentators seem to think that the only risk to serving in the military is being injured or killed in combat, since those are the ones they usually talk about on the news. However, for every hero killed in combat there are two or three others who die by some other means. These film makers are aware of that fact and even incorporated one of those Gold Star Mothers in the film's trailer whose son did not die from enemy action, but from an in-theater accident. In this country only about one percent of the population are serving. Most are encouraged and supported by their families along with a proud and worried mother. When a child dies in honorable service, how can the geography and details of the death be the measure of the loss to that mother? The Gold Star tradition has been around since WWI and has always recognized this idea by honoring the mothers and families of every one of those who have died in honorable service, however means. The Gold Star Mothers have also recognized that principle and they embrace all mothers regardless of when, where and how the death occurred. They are America's unknown Angels and I think this film will let us get to know them.

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