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"They Shall Live": A New Connecticut Movie About Gold Star Mothers

As Memorial Day approaches, a Connecticut production crew is fundraising to produce a movie about Gold Star mothers — women who lost a son or daughter at war. Read on to see how you can help them achieve their worthy goal.

The price that war can exact on a battlefield can be horrible and has been well-documented in many ways.

The toll that war can take on the home front, however, has been given less emphasis over the years, particularly the heartbreak of a parent losing a son or daughter in war. Nick Forte, Ryan McNamara, and Lucien Lafreniere aim to change that with the production of a 90-minute documentary titled "They Shall Live" detailing the history of an organization known as the Gold Star Mothers.

Started in Washington, D.C., in 1928 by Hartford native Grace Darling Seibold, who lost her son, George Vaughan Seibold, in World War I, the organization is a support group that enables mothers who have lost a son or daughter in war to meet and share their common experiences. The organization, whose name is derived from the wartime custom of hanging a banner in the window of a home with a servicemember at war, has many local chapters throughout the nation. The presence of a blue star on the banner means that someone is on active duty. The presence of a gold star represents a death in war. The organization is often socially active in supporting servicemen and their families but strives to remain non-political. The group now has about 950 members nationwide.

The website for the movie — theyshalllive.com — contains a moving video introduction to the movie, beginning with an interview of Mary Kight, Connecticut Department Chair of American Gold Star Mothers. Kight lost her son, Michael, during the Vietnam War, on May 19, 1967. Vietnam veteran Alfred Comeau also appears in the video to reflect on the loss of close friends during the war. Both give moving accounts of the effects on their lives. As you might imagine, the price of such a loss is immense.

The director-producer team of Nick Forte and Lucien Lafreniere teamed up last year to create the documentary "Eleven," a film that interviews a wide variety of service personnel who are veterans of various wars. There are links at the aforementioned website to lead you to a viewing of "Eleven." It's worth a look.

According to Nick Forte, the initial fundraising campaign for the film has begun. There are links at the website to make a donation for the film. The donations are made to a 503c organization and are, therefore, tax deductible. In addition, various gifts are associated with different levels of financial support for the film. Details can be found on the website.

So far over $12,000 has been raised. Ryan McNamara believes that total production costs will approach $250,000, so he is organizing several fundraising events. A live fundraiser will be held at Waterbury City Hall on July 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. It is a dress-up social affair with food provided and a keynote speaker who is a Congressional Medal of Honor winner. In addition, an auction will be held concurrently that night to raise money for the movie. Anyone or any business willing to donate a service or goods for the auction may contact the production crew through an email link provided at the website.

It is obvious from talking to both Forte and McNamara that they have great enthusiasm and passion for their pending production. Their plan is to shoot their footage from August till about Nov. 1st. Then the editing phase will begin in earnest. The goal then will be to have a rough cut done by early 2013,with the finished product soon to follow.

If you would like to read more about this project or make a tax-deductible donation, please click on this link:
www.theyshalllive.com.

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