This edition of Amanda, Absolutely! is written for my brave friend, Annette Hall. Having the title “Gold Star Mother” bestowed upon you is an honor that no one wants to receive. Annette is the embodiment of perseverance. Her light shines as a beacon of hope for those who, like her, have made sacrifices in the form of a beloved child’s life given while in service to our country. Her hero son, Jeffrey, was born a leader because he was born to a leader. God bless you, Annette.
It was on a cold day in November 2009 when Annette Hall realized her life’s destiny. Five and a half months earlier, her only son, Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Alan Hall, had been killed while on patrol in Wardak Province, Afghanistan. Because of this, her family had been invited to participate as special guests in the annual Veteran’s Day parade in nearby Huntsville. For all intents and purposes, the parade had been a success, but as she observed its participants, Annette became painfully aware that the parade was lacking one very important detail -- there was no representation of the country’s fallen heroes or their surviving Gold Star family members. With this awareness, came the realization that she had an obligation to stand not only for Jeffrey but for all of the fallen warriors of the country. Aware of her life’s destiny, she made a promise to herself and her son that she would do all that she could to stand for the fallen so that their service, honor, and sacrifice would not be forgotten.
Jeffrey Hall had realized his life’s destiny at an early age. He was only three years old when he began playing “Army.” Annette said he loved to dress up in camouflage clothing and would pretend to be a soldier for hours at a time. His dream of becoming a soldier became a reality when, upon graduation from high school, he joined the United States Army. He was a natural-born leader. Soldiers that served with him described him as “the best leader, soldier, and mentor that a soldier could have.” He embraced life with zest, enthusiasm, curiosity, courage, honor, and love of God. Shortly after his death, Jeffrey’s company commander shared with Annette a quote from Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire. Having known and served with Jeffrey, he felt that it personified who Jeffrey was as a soldier, leader, and man. Annette, who had always thought of Jeffrey as one of God’s warriors, was so moved by the words that she and her husband chose to have them included on the monument that marks the location of Jeffrey’s grave. The inscription on the monument reads:
“When a warrior fights not for himself, but for his brothers, when his most passionately sought goal is neither glory nor his own life’s preservation, but to spend his substance for them, his comrades, not to abandon them, not to prove unworthy of them, then his heart truly has achieved contempt for death, and with that he transcends himself and his actions touch the sublime.”
Annette shared with me that, even though there is nothing that can ease the sorrow in their hearts, her family finds comfort in the knowledge that, in the blink of an eye, Jeffrey was in the hands of God. A devoted husband, father, brother, and son, Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Alan Hall gave his life doing what he loved and was surrounded by those who had the utmost respect for him.
A few years ago, Annette happened to make the acquaintance of the president of the Birmingham Area Chapter of American Gold Star Mothers. She learned about that group’s activities and programs and knew that she wanted to organize a chapter for Gold Star mothers in the eighteen counties that comprise the northern region of the state. Driven by the promise that she had made to herself and to Jeffrey, and with hard work and determination, the North Alabama Chapter of American Gold Star Mothers received its official charter in May 2018. They are a small group of mothers who meet on a regular basis. The main goals of the group are to serve as a support system for each other; initiate and participate in programs and events that honor the memory, service, and sacrifice of our fallen warriors; and support military service members and their families, active and veteran. Each year, the chapter’s members select projects that they believe will be most beneficial in achieving the goals of the groups. One of this year’s projects includes participating with the organizers of the annual Cotton Row Run race in Huntsville to place photographs of local fallen service members on all runner’s number bibs for the 2020 race. Normally held each year on Memorial Day, this year’s event has been rescheduled for Labor Day, due to the coronavirus. In addition, for families within the service area of Redstone Arsenal’s Survivor Outreach Service program, the chapter will also be sponsoring a summer outing event for Gold Star children and a holiday outreach event for Gold Star families.
Anyone who wishes to support the efforts of our local chapter or who would like additional information regarding the North Alabama Chapter of American Gold Star Mothers may contact Annette Hall at email@example.com.
By: Amanda Winter Moore