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In the month of May, we celebrate Memorial Day. It is a time to commemorate all men and women who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on this day to pay homage to those who fought for their country.

For one local resident, the month of May has an even deeper meaning – it is a time to pay homage to her husband who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Captain Brian Letendre was killed on May 3, 2006, during operations in Iraq. He left behind his wife, Autumn, and a young son, Dillon, to carry on life’s journey.

It was a painful time for Autumn but, fortunately, she had returned to Central Indiana to be closer to family when her husband left for Iraq. During her darkest hours, she and her son were, at least, surrounded by family and friends. “We had always talked about what to do if that day ever comes,” says Autumn. “But, you are never really prepared for the devastating  news that you have lost a loved one.”

Over time, Autumn Letendre turned her tragedy into triumph by finding ways to help other military families dealing with not only the pain of losing a loved one, but also the other unique stresses placed on them by deployments, combat, and just day-to-day military life. She eventually formed the Golden Star USA Foundation – a nonpartisan nonprofit organization headquartered in Fishers, Indiana, which supports America’s active duty and honorably discharged troops and their dependents through education, lectures, financing, and other resources.

Autumn is also very proud to be organizing an annual fund-raising event called the “Yellow Ribbon of Love Gala” which brings military families to Indiana from all over to help raise funds for projects such as “DREAM” – a scholarship for the military child which helps towards the dream of going to college. The Annual Gala will be held at the Indiana War Memorial on Saturday, June 29, from 7:00-10:30 p.m. It features a buffet dinner, cash bar, live band, live auction, Fund a Dream, raffle, surprise celebrities, and entertainment. General admission tickets are $100 per person. Attire is formal. Tickets to attend the VIP Cocktail Reception and Gala are $150 per person. The VIP Reception will be located in the Green Room from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

“Sometimes the loss of a loved one means a financial loss to a family and these scholarships help fund a military child’s college education,” says Autumn.

Autumn travels a lot these days as a motivational speaker for different groups across the country including many school groups. She enjoys singing at functions; and in 2009, she caught the attention of the country music scene when she wrote and recorded an album called “Raise Your Flag.” The album was based on a collection of poems she wrote about her experiences as the wife of a military man and losing her husband.

So this May, Autumn asks that we all “raise our flag” for the men and women serving our country and for the military families hoping their loved ones safely return home.

For more information, you can go online at http://www.thegoldenstarusa.com or email Autumn at info@thegoldenstarusa.com.

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