GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — With their families in attendance, the names of fallen military members were read Thursday and a bell was tolled in their honor.

That included Petty Officer First Class Christopher Michael Colafati, with the U.S. Navy.

“I’m proud of him, and I’m just so proud that they do this, and to honor them, and to pay tribute to people who have served,” said Gail Jagrosse, his mother.

Colafati, who was married with two children, served 11 years in the U.S. Navy.

“He loved to cook,” Jagrosse said. “He loved to make people laugh.”

He was among those honored during the seventh year of the Bells Across America for Fallen Service Members ceremony at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton.

The “star” tradition began in World War I, when a blue star indicated an active service member. A gold star represented a fallen military member.

“We shed many tears,” said Ron Welch, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs. We’re in denial. “We have anger, and many of those emotions before you, the family members, are even notified about your tragic losses,”