- Associated Press - Saturday, May 24, 2014

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (AP) - A central New York woman has developed a special tribute to slain soldiers: stained-glass panels with a gold star in the center.

Over the past seven years, Valerie J. Parsons has made and given more than 150 of the pieces to the families of fallen soldiers from New York’s Fort Drum, the Watertown Daily Times (https://bit.ly/1nEWmpD ) reported Saturday.

“You’ve got to take care of the families that are left behind,” said Parsons, who is due to present three more pieces Thursday to the families of soldiers who died in Afghanistan.

Parsons, a customer-service worker, lives in Auburn and started working with stained glass in 1991. In the early 2000s, she made items with the 10th Mountain Division’s shield logo and began selling them at a Fort Drum gift shop.

The shop proprietor asked her in 2007 to make pieces with a gold star, a symbol of lives lost during military duty. Fort Drum soon started requesting her pieces and presenting them to all families who come to remembrance ceremonies there.

One of the pieces hangs in Elizabeth A. Wade’s bedroom in Antioch, Illinois. Her 22-year-old son, Spc. Andrew P. Wade, died weeks before his deployment in Afghanistan was to end in 2011.

“It helps you see that somebody is going to remember that he was around,” Elizabeth Wade told the newspaper.

Parsons has declined any payment for the 6½-by-8-inch stained glass pieces except the first one. Brendon L. Sorenson, Fort Drum’s deputy chief of protocol, credits Parsons with doing the work “out of the kindness of her heart.”

Parsons says that when officials express thanks for her work, she says, “You don’t thank me; I thank you.”


Information from: Watertown Daily Times, https://www.watertowndailytimes.com

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