DUNBAR, W.Va. — The first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in the United States now stands in Kanawha County.  It was officially dedicated at the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Dunbar on Wednesday.

“This is a symbol and tribute to those families who lost a loved one because they gave more for our freedoms than I did,” said Hershel “Woody” Williams, West Virginia’s last living Medal of Honor recipient.

“I got to come home and have a life, raise a family.  Their loved ones never had that opportunity.”

The monument is four slabs of black granite.  Each individual slab has an etching on the back for “homeland,” “family,” “patriot” and “sacrifice.”  “Sacrifice” depicts an empty chair at a family gathering.

The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is a project from the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation and it could serve as the launching point for a nationwide effort to honor families, throughout history, that have lost loved ones in combat.

A second Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is already being planned in Marietta, Ga.  Williams has also made a presentation about a possible monument project at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.

“This needs to be done in community after community because there’s Gold Star families in every community we have and it is something that can be placed anywhere,” said Williams who turned 90 this week.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and state Veterans Assistance Secretary Rick Thompson were among those who attended Wednesday’s dedication ceremony.

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  • Karen S. Phillips

    wow...this is just wonderful that my Kanawha County unveils the first Gold Star Families Monument.............I have not visited it yet...but want to soon.........God Bless all our Gold Star Mothers and Fathers out there....and their families........and friends.....and God Bless all our Veterans out there Past and Present...........My heart has a very soft spot for all of you.........and for my late husband ,,,,,who was a twice wounded Marine in 1969 in Vietnam......

  • Dale

    God Bless you and your Mother Marcia. Thank you!

  • Marcia Hairston

    I wish my mother was alive to have seen this. She was a past president of the American Gold Star Mothers in Morgantown. Her son, my brother, was killed in Viet Nam 2 days after his 20th birthday.