HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day is a nationwide day to remember surviving military families and honor the legacy of their loved ones.
"It's that one club that you don't want to belong to,” said Lula Lamb, a Gold Star step-mother.
Lamb and Robert Fitzgerald, who lost their son, Lt. Almar Fitzgerald, US Marine Corps, while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, lives in Henrico County.
"He was a quirky guy. He reminded you of Steve Urkel. He was a geek, loved his video games,” said Lamb.
"He always tried to not hurt anyone's feelings. It's like let me sacrifice Almar for the world or whoever he was dealing with,” said his father.
Almar went to the Citadel where he majored in criminal justice. His father served in the Army for more than two decades, something that influenced Almar greatly.
"He could've done anything he wanted to do, but he took after his father and decided to serve,” said Lamb.
He joined the Marine Corps and trained in Quantico. In 2005, he was deployed to Iraq. On February 18, 2006, he was injured when an IED detonated. He died in a hospital in Germany on February 21, 2006.
Sept. is a hard month for these parents. Almar would've turned 35 years old on Sept. 21.
"We think what would he have done? What would he have accomplished? He loved kids…he would've been an outstanding father,” said Lamb.
His parents struggle with his death, but say they find comfort in knowing why he died.
"Without those young men and women and men and women during my time, this country could not be as it is or could not be as great as it should be,” said Fitzgerald.
Lamb says being a Gold Star family is like being in a club no one wants to be a part of. But those families share a bond that helps many get through the darkest times.
"We can tell our stories, we can cry, we can laugh…and other family members get it,” said Lamb.
Lt. Almar Fitzgerald was an organ donor. His parents say six people received his organs when he died. They say in a way, he still lives on through those people.