MILLIGAN COLLEGE, TN (Nov. 10, 2010) — Autumn Letendre, a Milligan College alumna who has inspired and encouraged thousands of American military families since her husband’s death in Iraq, will speak at Milligan on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 11 a.m. in Milligan’s Seeger Memorial Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.
U.S. Marine Capt. Brian S. Letendre, also a Milligan alumnus, was killed in 2006 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province. He was 27 and left behind Autumn and their young son, Dillon Scott.
After Brian’s death, Autumn knew she wanted to do something to help other military families. The American flag became a symbol of comfort for her as she dealt with the loss.
Autumn wrote and later recorded a song, “Raise Your Flag, Raise It High,” which can be downloaded on iTunes. She also released the song to country music stations nationwide on Nov. 11, Veterans Day. The music video for “Raise your Flag,” recently hit 40,000 views on YouTube.
Autumn has been invited to sing, speak and share her story with military and non-military groups across the country. In October, she was the keynote speaker at a Flags for Fallen Military event in Minneapolis. The event drew more than 2,000 people.
She used the money she earned from speaking engagements and donations to launch a non-profit organization called Golden Star USA Foundation. Golden Star provides marriage retreats for active-duty and honorably discharged troops and their dependents. Offered year round, the marriage and counseling services help military couples and their children with the personal and professional challenges they face during deployment and upon their return home.
“Brian and Autumn met at Milligan, and they understood what it means to be servants and to find God’s call for their lives,” said Dr. Bruce Montgomery, a Milligan professor who knew the couple well and officiated at Brian’s funeral. “Brian knew his call was to serve with the Marines, and through this tragedy, Autumn has followed a call to reach out to other military families. It’s something we never would’ve wished on her, but her work has a tremendous emphasis across the country.”
Autumn’s work has touched many lives and was recently applauded by First Lady Michelle Obama. In a speech given to thousands of women across the country at Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference on Oct. 26, 2010, Obama recognized the Letendre family and Autumn’s efforts.
“And I am inspired by Gold Star Wives like Autumn Letendre … she’s become a passionate advocate for military families — speaking across the country, attending military funerals to comfort loved ones working to ensure that her husband’s memory lives on for her young son,” Obama said at the conference.
For more information about the Golden Star USA Foundation, visit www.thegoldenstarusa.com.