Dover Gold Star Shawl
Click on the picture to enlarge
Army Chaplain David Sorensen
and Cheryl Scallon, St. Julie Billiart Shawl Ministry
solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the
altar of freedom." Abraham Lincoln, 1864.
We bore witness to the intense grief deep in the eyes of US Army Chaplain David Sorensen, Dover Air Force Base. It is his job to comfort the families of the Army soldiers killed in the Mideast War. He spoke softly of the pain experienced by the Mothers and Wives of our fallen Soldiers. So often it is a Mother he meets with, as our Soldiers are so young, some as young as 19 or 20 years old. Consoling a fallen Soldier's wife with young children appears to be the most difficult.
Chaplain Sorensen shared an example of the ordeal experienced by American families of our fallen Soldiers. Perhaps the Family may be returning home from work about 6 PM where two military men in a car parked outside their home have been awaiting their arrival to notify them of their loved ones casualty. By noon the next day, the family is on their way to Dover, Delaware and the Army Family Support Center located about 10 minutes from the Air Force base. Chaplain Sorensen meets with the family in a small room where grief resources are displayed on a book rack, to pray with them, to offer them a prayer shawl, to simply be with them to support them through the difficult hours ahead. He then accompanies the family, who are driven by van to the base, (18 stop lights away) to await the arrival of the plane bearing their loved ones body. The family is taken to the Center for Families of the Fallen where a General offers them the condolences of our Nation. Then, they are taken to the flight line by Air Force staff to witness the Repatriation and Dignified Transfer of their loved one, encased in a simple transfer case covered by the American flag. Later, sometimes that same day, the family returns to their home, while during the next 72 hours their Soldier's body is prepared to be returned to the family's home town. The military remain with the family for the next three months, longer if the Family wishes.
Some families display intense anger; some are so stricken with grief they are unable to stand without assistance. Chaplain Sorensen spoke of the two common themes he hears from the fallen Soldiers' families. 1) Their son spoke of wanting to be a Soldier from the time he was a child and he died doing what he loved. 2) Their son had finally found a purpose in life, a life so unfinished. So often, Families share their sons' or daughters' feelings that it would be their last trip to the Mideast; a sense that death was imminent. Some Families save the recording of their Soldier's missed call to home saying one last time "I love you, Mom." Chaplain Sorensen absorbs all of these emotions, anger, sadness, disbelief, the intense emotions of a family and of an entire Nation. As the only chaplain on the Army Liaison Team he works alone with no other chaplain assistance unless there are mass casualties, wherein additional chaplains from Washington DC are sent to help him. A very difficult job, an impossible, overwhelming task, sometimes consoling 8 families at one time.
On a warm windy August night in 2009, Chaplain Sorensen stood on the tarmac at Dover with a Mother awaiting the transfer of her young son's body from the plane. Shortly thereafter, the Mother suggested that a prayer shawl might be helpful to provide warmth and comfort to the Families as they await their loved ones. She reported feeling so cold standing there during that extremely emotionally wrenching time. Chaplain Sorensen then reached out to the Prayers Shawls 4 Fallen Soldiers, an organization comprised of Shawl Ministries across the United States, including St. Julie Billiart Parish, to provide prayer shawls for the Repatriation and Dignified Transfer of our fallen Soldiers.
On Thursday, February 18th St. Julie Billiart Shawl Ministry was honored to hand deliver a knit shawl to Dover. We shared the prayers and blessings of our entire Parish. Chaplain Sorensen was so moved by the shawl, as it was the first shawl received by him bearing the gold star, symbolic of a fallen Soldier. The small tag attached to the shawl bore the words of Abraham Lincoln in his a letter to Mrs. Bixby, on the loss of her 5 sons. The Chaplain requested St. Julie's Shawl Ministry provide him with another gold star shawl to be displayed in the Family Support Center, an honor we are proud to accept.
Cheryl Scallon, St. Julie Billiart Shawl Ministry
Dover Gold Star Shawl Pattern
Click on the photo or pattern name to access
the knitted pattern (Microsoft Word) format
Are you interested in making Prayer Shawls 4 Fallen Soldiers' families?
If so, go to the following website for details:
Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers' Families
Return To Tip Sheet