The parents of military members who gave their lives in the wars since 9/11 are finding solace in an old San Francisco hotel at a unique event held annually. Scott Pelley reports on the annual gathering of "Gold Star" families on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, April 24 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
The Marine's Memorial Hotel and Club was transformed into a living memorial after WWII. Once a year, "Blue Star" mothers -- whose children served in the military -- invite "Gold Star" parents -- whose children died while serving in the military -- to a commemorative gathering. Mike Anderson has attended all eleven.
"Not a day goes by that I don't think of my son. He was Mike Jr., he was my only son, he was my firstborn," Anderson tells Pelley.
As a veteran attendee, he serves as an ambassador to newly aggrieved parents, offering the advice only another Gold Star parent could. "We tell them that we love them, we welcome them...We're walking the same dark valley. I know how you feel. It does get a little better over time," he says. "People talk about closure. There's never real closure, at least not in my mind. But there are steps forward to ease the pain, to help with that closure."
Anderson's son Mike was killed in 2004 in the battle to retake Fallujah. To help ease his pain he traveled to where his son died. "Going to Iraq myself to see some of the same faces, be in the region, breathe some of the same air that my son unselfishly fought and died for."
Counseling new Gold Stars reminds him of his own pain, but Anderson says helping others is natural. "My son went abroad to help people that he'd never met, that he would probably never see again. It's just that, in some ways, it's human nature to want to help others."