Gold Star Plates Honor Michigan Soldiers

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The Gold Star License plate has been a long time coming for Valerie May.

"It's been 43 years and I hoped for something like this. I didn't think I was going to be old enough long enough to see it," she said.

1968 -- that's when Valerie's 19-year-old son Rollie died fighting in the Vietnam war. She had to spell it with just one 'L' on the plate though, to make it fit.

"He only got six months in. I don't let a day go by without thinking about him," she said.

Finally, she and other gold star mothers can share their pride and suffering. Gold star plates, stamped for the first time Wednesday at an Adrian correctional facility, tell a story hard to put into words.

"When you see somebody going down the road you know their family member made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, our liberty, and our quality of life," said Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

"What many people don't realize is how much time goes into making the plates. They first go through the sheeting laminator, and several steps later they are packaged and sent off to the secretary of state.

"I would say 15 to 20 inmates from start to finish touching every single plate," said Plant Manager Will Rondeau.

It's a process Carol Johnson came to appreciate Wednesday, taking a tour of the factory.

"It's amazing how much Michigan does remember," she said.

Her son Gregory McCoy died in Iraq, a day she'll never forget.

Now his sons, just three and six years old when he passed, won't either.

"It'll be a great keepsake for them. They can put it next to the picture of their dad," Carol Johnson said.

Valerie knows where her plates are going...

"I want one on the front and the back so they cant miss it when they see my cars. I got two cars so I've got four plates," she said.

Four chances to make sure Michigan never forgets.

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