Peoria honors 50 Gold Star families during Memorial Day program

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 4:09 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - There are so many different ways to commemorate Memorial Day. Members of the Peoria City Council decided to spend Monday honoring those who are Gold Star families.

Brenda Bland, a Gold Star mother talks about her son who enlisted in the Marines “on Labor Day right after high school.”

A wreath-laying ceremony at Peoria’s Gateway Building honored the families who lost a loved one in war, known as Gold Star families, like Brenda Bland who is remembering her son, Benjamin.

“I’m a Gold Star mother. My son Benjamin Desilets was killed in action in Iraq in 2007. No mom really, I don’t think, wants her child to go in the military during a war. When September 11th happened that really changed him. He wanted to do something.”

Benjamin was just about to be promoted to Corporal in the Marines shortly before his death. He was posthumously promoted to the rank.

Bland says in the last 16 years, no day has been easy but to have his name read out loud allows her to know his sacrifice was not in vain,”it’s pretty cool. You know if I had my choice I would rather have him here sitting with me at the ceremony.”

Monday’s ceremony was put on in collaboration with the Peoria City Council.

As one of the new members of the council, At-Large Councilwoman, Dr. Bernice Gordon-Young, says knowing Peoria has such strong ties to every major war and it’s an honor to represent these families, “it means the world, right? That we have so many people from Peoria that live in Peoria, families that have sacrificed all that they have to pay the ultimate price and most importantly, representing not just Peoria but the nation.”

“Memorial Day is really just special because we want other people to remember,” Bland concluded.