The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument will be revealed and dedicated Saturday, Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. at the Forks Transit Center, 551 S Forks Avenue. Hershel “Woody” Williams will be the guest speaker. All are invited to attend. At the Transit Center Plaza, the monument joins other memorials; the Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker, the Spartan Memorial, and a Smoke Bush in memory of Lance Cpl. Jason Hanson who lost his life in Iraq on July 29, 2006.
For families of those protecting our country, earning the status of a Gold Star Family is not an honor they would want. These families have lost a loved one in time of war. Every war has touched someone in Washington … in Clallam County … in our community. The purpose of the monument is to ensure those lost in combat are not forgotten.
It was nearly one year ago when the VFW and their Auxiliary set up the project with the VFW Auxiliary President (Janet Hughes) and VFW Commander (Tom Hughes) as co-chairs, and community members including Mike McCracken, Mike Rowley, Christi Baron, and Bill Plumley. Elliahna Kilmer has joined the committee as part of her senior project.
The 15,000 pound, black granite monument features on one side, “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families who have sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom.” The other side reflects area communities depicting panels of Homeland, Family, Patriot and Sacrifice.
The national effort was created in 2010 by Hershel “Woody” Williams, an Iwo Jima Medal of Honor recipient, who realized when a loved one made the ultimate sacrifice in the military that the loss was to the entire family and their relatives.
The memorial is not a war memorial, but for all families who have lost a loved one due to military actions. These families have had to survive knowing every day, every holiday would be different because their military hero is not there.
Many have asked how the term Gold Star Family has come to be. In 1917, people would hang a blue star banner to let their neighbors and community know they had a loved one fighting in the war. The blue star was covered with a gold star if that family member was killed in action. Every family who hung a blue star, prayed it would never turn to gold.
Funding for this project was truly a grassroots effort. Funds came as far away as North Carolina, Texas, California, Alaska and other areas. The majority of funds came from the VFW, the military community and veterans groups and organizations. Part of the successful fundraising came from the development of a Challenge Coin with the monument on one side stating “Forks, Washington” and the other side depicting all five service medallions and a funeral flag in the center. There were only 250 coins produced with each being numbered.
During the fundraising process, each committee member has been touched in many ways. One Vietnam Veteran stated when he was in Nam, those were his brothers. He held back tears as he said, “Some did not come home. I probably don’t qualify as a Gold Star Family member, but this is where I’m going to come to respect and reflect my brothers in arms.”
In the words of Georgie Carter-Krell (Mother of Posthumous Medal of Honor Recipient Pfc. Bruce W. Carter, “Dying for freedom isn’t the worst thing that can happen. Being forgotten is.”
For more information, contact Tom Hughes at 360-640-2581, or Janet Hughes at 360-640-1401 evenings.