Gold Star Sister gets her due - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Gold Star Sister gets her due

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LEBANON, N.H. -

It started as what appeared to be a press conference.

"Today we're here to announce a partnership between Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic in the Department of Dermatology and the State of Vermont," said Vermont Senate President John Campbell.

But that was just a rouse.

"That's not really why we are here," Campbell added.

The crowd at Dartmouth Hitchcock came together to celebrate the life of fallen soldier Kevin Sheehan -- and surprise the older sister, Karen, he left behind.

"I'm very surprised. I had no idea this is going to happen," Sheehan said.

Kevin died in combat in Iraq in May of 2004, and since then Karen, who lives in New Hampshire, has wanted a Gold Star license plate for her car. They are given to the parents of fallen soldiers.  She helped raise her brother and tried to get a plate from the New Hampshire DMV, but it didn't work out.  So a group of Vermont leaders secured an honorary "Gold Star Family" plate to pay tribute to the soldier with Green Mountain roots.

"To be able to put it in your car and have people ask you about who he was or what it means -- it means everything. I want them to be remembered," Sheehan said.

Karen said the 36-year-old had a big heart and who put his family first. "He's gone, but he was a good guy and he worked hard and he loved me and he loved his family," she said.

"Kevin was a wonderful man. He was very much a loving father -- loving spouse. He was very much involved in his community," said Vermont National Guard CW2 Peter Labrie.

Nine years later, it's Karen's community of co-workers and friends who rallied around her to celebrate the life of the brother and American hero she lost. "It's up to us to keep their memories alive -- for those kids -- and he is always in my heart and there is no day that goes by that I don't think of him," Sheehan said.

Nearly a decade after her loss, the Gold Star sister has a new way to remember her brother.

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