The members of the Fletcher-Wittenborn Post 9106, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and their Auxiliary have registered with the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to begin fundraising efforts to build a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.
Total cost is approximately $90,000. Along with writing grants, committee members are asking the community to assist in this goal through various fundraising programs including dinners, stuff the boot, bake sales and a few surprises.
This memorial was created by Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams to remember those families who have made the ultimate sacrifice. To learn more about the memorial, please visit their web page: http://hwwmohf.org/forks-wa.html
Woody Williams, an Iwo Jima Medal of Honor recipient, realized when a loved one made the ultimate sacrifice in the military; the loss was to the entire family and their relatives. This monument is not a war memorial, but for families who are here in the West End and those who visit. These families have had to survive knowing every day; every holiday would be different because their loved one is not here. The monument is to honor Gold Star Families, preserve the memory of the fallen, and stand as a stark reminder that Freedom is not free.
This stunning black granite monument features two sides. One side bears the words: “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who have sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom”. The other side tells a story through the four granite panels: Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice. The scenes on each panel are a reflection of our community’s Gold Star Families and their fallen Heroes. At the center of this tribute is the most distinct feature of the monument, the cut out which represents the Loved One who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of Freedom. There will be no names on the monument.
In 1917, long before the current communications barrage of today, people would hang a blue star banner to let their neighbors and community know they had a loved one fighting in the war. Some of these banners had three, four or more blue stars depending on how many of their family members enlisted in the fight. A gold star represented their loved one paid the ultimate price, having given all – killed in action.
Janet and Tom Hughes are co-chairs of the committee spearheading this project. Other committee members include Christi Baron, Mike Rowley, Bill Plumley and Mike McCracken. All members have pins or coins available so the entire community can help in the most important mission—one that cannot fail.
An aggressive schedule for the completion of this project has been set. Fundraising for the actual monument is due by April 2019 with additional funds needed for the completion of the plaza by August. There is a special company that will come to place this 15,000-pound monument on the plaza, ready for the ceremony tentatively scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019 – Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Families Day.
The committee has implemented an incentive giving program. When anyone donates $25 or more they may receive a specialized lapel pin with the monument on it with Forks at the base of the monument. If one donates $100 or more, they may receive a special two-inch coin made specifically for the creation of this monument. The coin has the monument on the front with the five service medallions on the back. In the center of the medallions is a folded flag. Each coin is numbered with only 250 coins available. These two pieces of the incentive program are available now.
The American Legion and other veterans groups are taking part in this project. Other community members are invited to work to make this project a reality in Forks. Permission has been granted by Clallam Transit and the City of Forks to place this beautiful memorial at the Forks Transit Center. Other memorials are placed in this same area including, the Blue Star Memorial Highway marker placed by the Bogachiel Garden Club, the Spartan Memorial for those who have passed far too soon, and a beautiful Smoke Bush in memory of Lance Corporal Jason Hanson who lost his life in Iraq July 29, 2006.
The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument project thus begun as a way to acknowledge and thank Gold Star Families for their enduring sacrifice while ensuring that their fallen Heroes shall never be forgotten. As of Aug. 1, 2018, there have been 39 Monuments Dedicated with 41 more in progress, representing 37 states; mostly in the eastern United States. The Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation has a goal of at least one of these monuments placed in every state. The foundation has the proposed plans, timelines, and even specific granite from a special quarry to make every one of these monuments beyond special.
On Veterans Day, Nov., 11, 11 a.m., VFW and American Legion members will provide a ceremony at Forks Transit Center to celebrate all military veterans who have worn the uniform. It is also the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I when the treaty was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Following the celebration, a free luncheon will be served at the VFW with a brief talk about the project. The community is invited.
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, or if you would like to schedule a program on the monument, contact the VFW at 360-374-5489, or Janet Hughes at 360-640-1401 evenings. Debit and credit card payments can be securely made via the website.