As you’re continuing to enjoy your three-day weekend, it’s important to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day—honoring those who gave their lives for our freedom. For one family, this day hits close to home this year.
“Freedom is not free. Each of us gave up something. He gave his life,“ said Guy Arellano.
It’s a solemn reminder as the Arellano family reflects on their first Memorial Day without their son, Justin Arellano.
“We don’t expect our kids to pass before us,“ said Guy, Justin’s father.
“It’s not something you expect,“ continued Annette Arellano, Justin’s mother.
Justin took after his dad by serving in the military. He was a corpsman in the U.S. Navy.
“I did Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, and never thought I would lose my son before me but I’m proud of what he served,“ said Guy.
The morning of Sept. 22, 2018, the 28-year-old called his sister. The family didn’t know that would be the last time they would ever speak with him.
“Little did we know that a few hours later, we would get the call that an accident had happened and he was no longer with us anymore,“ said Annette.
In an instant, the Arellanos became one of too many families with a fallen hero.
“On Sept. 22, I was no longer a Blue Star mom. I became a Gold Star mom,“ said Annette. “That’s a family no parents wants to be part of.“
A Gold Star Family consists of the immediate family members of a fallen service member who died while serving our country.
As people get out or enjoy their days off, this family hopes all remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.
“It’s not about the barbecues and the parties and the beginning of summer,“ said Annette. “It’s what our men and women have given their lives up for. Our country. Our freedom.“
Leaving behind his family, Justin’s legacy will live on through his three young children — from the bedtime stories he told them to the stories about their dad, told by their grandparents.
“His son, his daughters, they will know everything about his growing up and his military and what a person he is,“ said Guy.
“And how much he loved them,“ Annette continued.
It’s a forever reminder of the costs that come with our freedom.