Gold Star Mom, author and ambassador for the American Warrior Initiative Karen Vaughn spoke to two groups at Northwestern State University on Veterans Day to share the story of her son, fallen U.S. Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, and inspire listeners to value freedom and live lives worthy of those who are willing to die to preserve that freedom.
Vaughn was the featured speaker first at NSU Elementary Lab School’s Veterans Day program, presented annually by the 4-H Club, which included a breakfast reception for veterans where youngsters greeted and talked with the honorees, many who are parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors of the students. 4-H Sponsor Lisa Wiggins said the reception gives students experience interacting with adults and learning their stories first-hand.
4-H club members then escorted veterans to the gymnasium where a student-led program for a capacity crowd included pictures of veterans and service members with Elementary Lab families and Vaughn’s speech in which she thanked those who serve for protecting and defending her freedom.
“Freedom was never, is never free. It comes at a cost,” she said. “The greatest gift ever known to mankind is freedom. The mission of my life is to share the cost of freedom with civilians.”
Later in the day, Vaughn spoke to NSU students to share a message of sacrifice and service.
Aaron Vaughn knew from age 8 that he wanted to be a Navy SEAL. Inspired by the actions of passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, he enlisted and overcame many setbacks before achieving his goal. On Aug. 6, 2011, he was killed in action in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan when a chopper carrying 30 Americans was shot down while flying into battle. Since then, Vaughn authored the best-selling “World Changer: A Mother’s Story” and speaks around the country and on many platforms to talk about the principles of endurance and service.
“Blood-stained boots paved the path to freedom,” she said. “Aaron loved his country and knew it was worth dying for. Think how fortunate you are to live in America. We’ve had horrific moments in our country but because of freedom, we can fix it. The sacrifice for your freedom has been tremendous. Live a life worthy of that sacrifice.”
Vaughn also serves with the non-profit her family started in honor and memory of Aaron Vaughn. Her appearance at NSU was supported by President’s Leadership Program and Alpha Lambda Delta first year honor society.