CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams had always wondered why families that have lost loved one in battle were not recognized for their sacrifices.
In 2013 his organization, the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, began honoring Gold Star Families with Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments nationwide.
A groundbreaking ceremony will take place on Saturday at the West Virginia Cultural Center and State Capitol Complex in Charleston for a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.
“They are sending a message to the families of those who have sacrificed a loved one for us and our freedom, that they are being recognized, appreciated and honored for the very first time in America’s history,” Williams told MetroNews.
“They gave more than any of us.”
The monument at the Capitol will be two times the size of another other monuments as Williams wants it to be unique because of the monuments beginnings in the state.
60 more monuments have been planned throughout the nation. Williams said he never dreamed the Gold Star Family Memorial idea would take off the way it did.
“Communities around the country saw it on the internet. Those in that community decided we have Gold Star Families living here and we have never done anything to honor them and we need to do the same thing. That is when it started snowballing,” he said.
The West Virginia National Guard will be participating in the announcement ceremony and groundbreaking beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The completion of the monument is slated for the Fall with dedication scheduled for Wednesday, October 2.
Williams said the purpose is all about the families, to preserve the memory of the fallen, and to let them share a common ground with other families.
“This gives the Gold Star Families of that community a place to go that they know or recognizes and pays tributes to the one that they lost,” Williams said.
“They are meeting those who have had a similar sacrifice and they get to know each other. Now they can share their grief and their relationship with each other.”