Gold Star Mom: Owego tribute is bittersweet

By Erika Mahoney

May 26, 2014 Updated May 26, 2014 at 6:22 PM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) An Owego mom says everyday is Memorial Day in her home.

Barbara Bilbrey lost her 21-year-old son, Charles Bilbrey, on July 26, 2007 while he was serving in Iraq. His vehicle hit an explosive device.

On Memorial Day, Bilbrey shared her story with Owego during a ceremony. Last Saturday, the Gold Star Mom was picked to help read the names of fallen soldiers post September 11 in Washington, DC.

"My reading was at 2:30 in the afternoon," Bilbrey said.

She read fifteen names out loud, including her son's name.

"It was very respectful and just powerful to sit and figure out that it took from 10 in the morning until six at night to get all of those names read," said Bilbrey.

But maybe even more touching was seeing it inscribed in her hometown.

After five months, new additions were unveiled at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial.

"To see a monument like this for the first time, it's gut wrenching, it's bittersweet," said Bilbrey.

Bilbrey's name is inscribed on one of the three new monuments at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial.

"I've kept them covered up since Wednesday," Bill Chandler, the man behind the military monuments said.

The new monuments include a second World War II stone, a Modern Warfare stone, and a Medal of Honor statue.

"When I saw it Wednesday night, when we set it in place, it brought tears to my eyes, it's just gorgeous," Chandler said.

Bilbrey will never see the new additions, but strangely enough, he envisioned his name there at just seven years old.

"He had looked at these and came over and all the lights were on and he said 'I want my name on here.' And obviously, another mom and I were going 'no, no, no' and we explained to him what this all meant and he walked away with a different understanding, " said Bilbrey.

Yet Bilbrey always wanted to be in the action.

"So I guess in the end, whether I like it or not, he got his wish," said Bilbrey.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.