By Tony Aiello

HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Rockland County community held a solemn ceremony Friday to honor gold star mothers, whose children died serving in the U.S. armed forces.

“I want to thank all of you for your perseverance, thank the sacrifices of your loved ones, and please don’t forget we’re here for you,” said Ret. U.S. Army Col. Ronald Diz.

READ MORE: FDNY Planning Big Anti-COVID Vaccine Mandate Demonstration For Thursday Morning Outside Gracie Mansion

It was a warm embrace for Yolanda Lopez. Her son, Manny, was the first Rockland resident to die in the Iraq War 16 years ago. He was 20 years old.

Manny’s name is etched on a panel at the War on Terror memorial in Haverstraw. It was read aloud by Renee D’Angelis, a Gold Star Mother, during the ceremony.

READ MORE: New York State Attorney General Letitia James Reportedly Planning To Announce Run For Governor

“When I see this kind of gathering for our children, it lets us know that they’ll never be forgotten. Yes, they sacrificed their lives for us, but they will be remembered,” Lopez said.

Many others at the ceremony were old soldiers who made it home and recalled friends who did not.

“Makes you think, what could have been,” said Bob Schreiner, a Purple Heart recipient.

MORE NEWS: New York City Announces $111 Million Project To Improve Appearance Of NYCHA Buildings

Their sacrifices must be honored and remembered.

Tony Aiello