BOSTON (WWLP) – Military members are honored everyday in Memorial Hall, but on Thursday a special ceremony was held for their families.

The 11th annual Gold Star Family tree dedication returned back to Memorial Hall this year, and elected officials shared in honoring these heroic families. The Christmas tree inside the State House stood proud alongside the crowd of those honoring fallen soldiers.

Before the ceremony began, the tree was adorned by Gold Star Families with pictures of their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for our country. For some, it has been years since they last celebrated the holiday season with their loved ones, for others this is their first year.

The ceremony was both celebratory and solemn, hugs were had and tears were shed, but Santa Claus also looked on, exciting the children in the audience. The Governor, first lady Lauren Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, and Major General Garry Keefe were in attendance.

Governor Baker spoke on the sacrifice every family member in the hall has made, “My message today is a really simple one, it’s thank you for the chance to serve, it’s to thank you for what you’ve given us all, and to hope in some small way, you have felt, that the honor and recognition of your family member has been genuine and true, and that we will in fact never ever forget.”

The Gold Star Symbol can be traced back to World War I when families would hang banners with blue stars representing their family member in the service. If the service member died in action, the stars were changed to gold.

This event was made even more special because it was held in Memorial Hall, the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic.