BARBOURSVILLE - In a few short months, the Barboursville Park will be home to the third Gold Star Memorial Monument in West Virginia.
During a groundbreaking ceremony at the park Sunday, Hershel "Woody" Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II, reminded those in attendance about the importance of the monument.
"There are so many monuments recognizing the men and women who sacrificed their lives for this county, and rightly so, but there was not a monument to remember the family members who sacrificed their loved one, and those people need to be remembered, too," Williams said.
Williams established the Hershel "Woody" Williams Medal of Honor Foundation in 2012 with the intent of honoring Gold Star Families in West Virginia.
A Gold Star Family member is a wife, husband, mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, parent through adoption, foster parents who stand or stood in place of parents, children, stepchildren, children through adoption, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, grandchildren and grandparents of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States that sacrificed their life for our way of life, while serving in the United States military.
Since then, his vision has grown to communities across the U.S. who also seek to honor those families.
"There is not a person who is not touched by this," Barboursville Mayor Chris Tatum said. "This monument will not only solidify the memory of the soldiers lost in combat but also their families, who also paid the price for having family members in the service."
Jerry Beckett, a member of the Cabell County Committee for the Gold Star Memorial Monument, said this day would not have been possible without the dozens of organizations and community members that contributed to the $50,000 project.
He said they still have about $10,000 to raise but has no doubt that they will be able to get the funds in time.
"It's really been a community effort," Beckett said. "The Village of Barboursville donated the space for the monument, and when it comes here in the fall, we will have local contractors put the monument in place and install the light."
The original Gold Star Memorial Monument was established at the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Dunbar.