I’ve seen that face — in the father, mother, and sister of a slain friend and brother from Iraq. I’ve seen that face as they’ve stood beside his casket, as they were handed a carefully-folded flag, and as they watched as a son and brother’s coffin was lowered into the ground. I saw that face again, years later, when we gathered to honor my friend, and a neighbor silently walked into the family’s front yard and played a heartbreaking, beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” on his bagpipes.

It’s a distinctive face. There’s the indescribable pain, but it’s mixed with the deepest pride. Because Carryn Owens had the courage to attend such a public gathering so soon after her great loss, we saw how raw and so very real it is to give to your nation the people most precious to you.

That sacrifice is why we owe our Gold Star families the deepest respect, why they’re revered in military ranks, and why — just for a moment — a nation can unite to give honor to whom honor is most certainly due.