Spokane Christmas tradition returns to honor fallen military members

SPOKANE, Wash. - A very special tree stands inside the doors of the Spokane VA Medical Center.

Families came from across Eastern Washington to decorate it Sunday morning. They hung gold stars and photo ornaments on nearly every bough. 

For more than a dozen years, Susan Henderson, of Colbert, WA, has spent a day in December decorating the tree. This year she had help from several other people. They all had one thing in common. Each had lost a family member in military service. They're known as Gold Star families. 

Henderson's son, Army Spc. Robert T. Benson, took his own life while he was deployed in Iraq in 2003. She's found comfort in the years after his death by decorating a Christmas tree for everyone to enjoy at the Spokane VA Medical Center. She said the tree is a reminder to never forget.

"They are fallen heroes and every day, we, as Gold Star Families, think of them," Henderson said. 

Henderson encouraged other military families to put their own decoration or gold star on the tree to honor a fallen hero. The tree is located at the main entrance of the Spokane VA Medical Center, located at 4815 N. Assembly St.