WHATELY, Mass. (WWLP) – Following a ceremony outside the old Whately Town Hall, Jim Ross, who organized it all, walked up to Joyce Eileen Moran and gave her a gold star flag.

The flag was in memory of her husband, a Vietnam Veteran who took his own life in 2010.

While families who lose veterans to suicide are not traditionally honored as gold star families, Jim felt it was important on Veteran’s Day to recognize her.

“It’s very similar to when we perform a military funeral,” Ross said. “We will go to the surviving spouse… we get down on one knee and we thank them for their service to our country.”

Joyce Eileen Moran met Thomas Dean Major in the summer of ’76 after he served in Vietnam, “We had 34 years together and I’m still counting 43 because on the 16th will be the day of his suicide.”

A struggle she said was brought to the forefront in the final hours of his life. Since then, moving forward has been a strategy of small steps. Jim Ross wanted to honor what she and so many others have been through.

“She deserves to be a gold star wife and recognized that way,” Ross said. “And we don’t pay enough attention to those poor souls who struggle every day.”

All this happening at the celebration of a place that is being revitalized for the first time in over 50 years. They’ll soon add roughly 300 names of veterans in Whately, dating as far back as the French Indian War, a tribute on Veterans Day to the many who have served.

“This day is important personally to me because I believed Thomas is with me every moment,” Joyce said.

Part of the clean up was adding benches to this spot, so people can come to reflect on what our veterans have done for us.