CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Next Sunday, September 29, is Gold Star Mother's Day.
Many of you may be familiar with the day, whether you've heard of it, you know someone who is a gold star mother, or you are one yourself.
"I recently found out it was established back in 1936, which I was not familiar with, because I was not familiar with American Gold Star mothers until my son was killed," Chicopee resident and Gold Star mother Tracy Taylor tells us.
Tracy Taylor says she can vividly remember the morning of October 14, 2007.
"There's some days I can hear that knock. I can see the faces. I relive every moment, every second," explained Taylor.
Two soldiers shared the news about her son, Private First Class Kenneth Iwasinski, turning Tracy's worst nightmare into a reality.
"He didn't come home. Well, I take that back. He came home, and I'm lucky he came home. Unfortunately, he came home in a casket," continued Taylor.
Kenny joined the Army in 2006, something Tracy says he was born to do.
"Kenny came into this world fighting. He loved life. He loved protecting. That's the main characteristic with Kenny. He wanted to protect," stated Taylor.
After boot camp at Fort Benning in Georgia, Kenny went on to Colorado for infantry training.
In the Fall of 2006, he was sent to Baghdad.
"When he called, or what he'd say is he was in the 'red zone', not a thing mom wants to hear," said Taylor.
Kenny was a gunner, usually positioned on top of a humvee and often times putting himself in the direct line of fire.
In October 2007, he found himself in a different spot of a humvee, one that would ultimately lead to Kenny making the ultimate sacrifice.
"Unfortunately, in October '07, when we were informed he was killed in action, he was the only one in the humvee that perished. My mind could not figure that out. Logically, I couldn't figure out if he was the one on top of the humvee. After I got some information, I got some communication. I found out he was actually driving the humvee and ran over an IED," says Taylor.
Kenny was posthumously promoted to specialist after his death.
This October marks the twelve-year anniversary of Kenny's death.
"It's nice to have something that he touched, that he wrote. The lovely memories of finding poems that he wrote years after and having them dedicated to yourself, to my mom," noted Taylor.
And twelve years of Tracy having a title no military mother wants.
"Since Kenny's death, my family has expanded through all of the local veterans. This community, this state is truly amazing for all the support. To have somebody that understands what that knock on the door is, what that flag means," stated Taylor.
Tracy is the president of Gold Star Mother's Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
She tells Western Mass News it's important to say these fallen soldiers' names, share their stories, and keep their legacies alive.
"What a wonderful organization we are. What a great group of very strong women, the support of our families. For the people who are going through it for the first year or 25th year or have dealt with this their whole lives, I commend you and I say thank you. If it wasn't for those strong women, a lot of us wouldn't be here. They've given us a wonderful community and we will remember our children," added Taylor.
This month, we salute Specialist Kenneth Iwasinski, all soldiers who died for our freedom, and the Gold Star mothers.
If you would like to nominate a local veteran, active or retired, who's story should be heard, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.