Heath native’s bill honoring fallen heroes introduced in Congress

Keith Sherman, right, interviews Raymond Harris, the father of Marine Capt. Jennifer Harris, who died in a helicopter crash while serving in Iraq in 2007, during a cross-country trip to interview at least one Gold Star family in each state in 2019. Legislation drafted by Sherman, a Heath native, with the intent of recognizing those killed serving in the U.S. military has been introduced in both chambers of Congress.

Keith Sherman, right, interviews Raymond Harris, the father of Marine Capt. Jennifer Harris, who died in a helicopter crash while serving in Iraq in 2007, during a cross-country trip to interview at least one Gold Star family in each state in 2019. Legislation drafted by Sherman, a Heath native, with the intent of recognizing those killed serving in the U.S. military has been introduced in both chambers of Congress. FILE PHOTO

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-13-2024 2:35 PM

Modified: 05-17-2024 3:42 PM


Legislation drafted by a Heath native with the intent of recognizing those killed serving in the U.S. military has been introduced in both chambers of Congress.

Keith Sherman, who now lives in North Carolina, worked diligently on multiple drafts of a resolution declaring May as “Fallen Heroes Memorial Month,” to honor the 1.3 million men and women who have laid down their lives for this country, as well as the families and loved ones of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

“I feel great and it’s ... been a long, long fight to try to get it this far,” Sherman said. “It absolutely should not be a partisan issue.”

Asked if he expects this legislation will be a slam dunk in Congress, Sherman said he is cautiously optimistic. He said some worry the extra designation could “water down” the spirit of Memorial Day, a notion he rejects.

Sherman’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., introduced the resolution in the House of Representatives. U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-AL, did the same in the Senate.

“We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Americans who have bravely given their lives for our nation, and we should honor them for more than just one day each calendar year,” Bishop said in a statement on his website.

“Memorial Day is not about grilling by the lake — it is a solemn day to remember and honor the brave men and women who have given their lives for this country,” Tuberville said in the same statement. “Our fallen heroes deserve to be celebrated for more than one day a year. My father served in World War II and I saw firsthand the tremendous sacrifices he made for our great country. If we are going to dedicate entire months to specific causes, the least we can do is designate May as ‘Fallen Heroes Memorial Month.’ I am proud to introduce this bill with Congressman Dan Bishop and look forward to spending May reflecting on the heroism of men and women killed while serving our country.”

The resolution’s text can be read at tinyurl.com/FallenHeroesMemorialMonth.

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Sherman, who served 26 years in the U.S. Navy and retired as senior chief petty officer, was inspired to draft the resolution following a cross-country trip to interview at least one Gold Star family in each state in 2019. The term “Gold Star” dates to World War I, when families displayed a star for every member in the military; the star was blue if they were alive, gold if dead. Sherman started from Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, where he was stationed, and recorded stories for the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.

Sherman finished his journey by interviewing Raymond Harris, the father of Marine Capt. Jennifer J. Harris, a Swampscott native who was killed in 2007 while piloting a helicopter in Iraq.

“To come full circle is the most serendipitous moment of my life,” Sherman said of the resolution.

   Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.