Streamwood honors Gold Star families with new monument

A new monument honoring Gold Star Families was unveiled Sunday at the Streamwood Veterans Memorial during the village’s annual Memorial Day ceremony.
Ryan Rayburn for the Daily Herald

Rain poured relentlessly on the crowd Sunday morning as they gathered at Streamwood’s Veterans Memorial for the unveiling of a new monument to Gold Star families.

It was a small sacrifice to make to honor families who’ve endured in the wake of a loved one’s ultimate sacrifice during a time of war.

Among them at Sunday’s ceremony was Christine Hotchkin, mother of Army Pfc. Gunnar R. Hotchkin of Naperville. Gunnar, 31, died June 16, 2010, while serving in North Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Christine said Gunnar’s youngest son, Tristan, recently graduated from Naperville Central High School.

“It breaks my heart that Gunnar has not been here to see Tristan grow into the wonderful young man who is about to go off to university,” she said. “My son has not been here to witness all that his children have experienced over these years as they have grown into adults.

“Memorial Day is about them also,” she added. “They also sacrificed so much.”

Also speaking at the event, which moved indoors to Streamwood village hall after the monument’s unveiling, was Katie Stack of Arlington Heights. Her husband, Marine Lance Cpl. James Bray Stack, 20, was killed Nov. 10, 2010, while on patrol in the Helmand province in Afghanistan.

The Stacks married in 2009 and had their daughter, Mikayla, later that year.

“Oh, boy, was she the light of his eyes,” Stack said as Mikayla watched from a nearby seat.

Gold Star family members Katie Stack and daughter Mikayla, 14, honor their husband and father, respectively, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. James Stack, who was killed in 2010, while serving in Afghanistan. The Stacks took part in Memorial Day ceremonies Sunday in Streamwood that included the unveiling of a new monument for Gold Star families.
Ryan Rayburn for the Daily Herald

With James’ death, Stack said she came to know what it meant to be a Gold Star family member.

Prior to that day, she said she celebrated Memorial Day like most others — a barbecue with family, hanging out with friends and a day off from school.

“But that’s not what that day is about,” she said Sunday. “It is our fault as a whole society that we have not done more for the ones who have given the ultimate sacrifice and who have not had the privilege of their story being told.”

She challenged those listening to think of those who made the ultimate sacrifice — and spouses who stared at an empty pillow at night and children who grew up knowing a parent only from photographs — so they might enjoy their freedom

The new Gold Star Monument was provided by Roman and Barbara Koval of KR Tech Group LLC, a Streamwood masonry firm. Roman Koval, who came to this country from Ukraine in the late 1990s, said he heard the village was looking for a monument from a friend who works for the police department and has served in the military.

Families gather in the rain Sunday for the unveiling of a new Gold Star Families monument at the Streamwood Veterans Memorial.
Ryan Rayburn for the Daily Herald

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