COLUMBUS, Ohio — Today is Memorial Day, a day to remember those who died in active military service. But for many families who lost a loved one while fighting for our freedom, Memorial Day is every day.
Specialist Joseph Riley paid the ultimate sacrifice on November 24, 2014, while fighting in Afghanistan.
On Sunday, his family and other families of fallen heroes were honored as a part of the second Gold Star Family Candlelight Vigil.
Riley's mother and sister said it gives them joy, knowing Riley died a hero.
"It's our day to remember them, and we love it because we know they're remembered. Their names are spoken, and that's the encouragement that we have," Riley's mother, Michelle said.
President of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum Lt. General Michael Ferriter said military families never get over losing a loved one. This vigil is to help them get through it.
"People try to put them in a box where you should be grieving. Eighteen years later of course we miss them, but we should be living and thriving also," Ferriter said.
"They're soldiers who never got to be veterans. They didn't get to end that way, so their story stays where they were, except for remembering them at the ceremony every year and remembering their names and speaking about them," Riley's sister Cortney said. "Joey is a hero and not everyone can say that. So that's something we are proud of and that we hang on to."
Cortney said to honor her brother, the family even named some of Joseph's nieces after him.