Nov 23 2019
Mike Lacey |WLOX
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It was an emotional and inspirational ceremony Saturday as the city of Biloxi unveiled its Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.
The memorial in Biloxi is number 58th in 44 states, and those dedicated to honoring people who have lost family members while in military service know there’s a lot of work left to be done.
Ninety-six-year-old World War II Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams was the guest speaker.
“This monument is not just for today,” he said to the crowd. “But it honors those of the past, those of the present and, God forbid, those of the future.”
Williams saved American lives with a flamethrower and super-human courage in the Battle of Iwo Jima, but this day is not about him.
“It’s about folks who have suffered the loss of a loved one,” he said. “They sacrificed their lives for us and for America, and we have never paid tribute to those families.”
Williams began the process to do just that with his Medal of Honor Foundation. He said he won’t stop until every state has a memorial.
“The thing that gives me energy and makes me want to continue doing what I am doing is so that those loved ones who gave all they had, made that ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten," he said.
Emotions were high during the ceremony as Gold Star families were asked to introduce themselves and their family member who was killed.
It continued as the memorial itself was unveiled.
Diane Moore’s father, Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Moore, died while a POW in Vietnam. She was one of the project organizers.
“This monument and working with it and getting it designed and being brought here … I’ve have no words to describe it other than it’s epic. It’s epic," she said.
Among the families was Arissa Gibbs, a D’Iberville High School student. She lost her father in 2005 in Iraq and her step-father in 2009 in Afghanistan.
“It means a lot to me, because people, when I tell them that I’m a double Gold Star child, they don’t really understand,” she said. “So, it really just warms my heart for the monument to be put up and everything, so everyone will know, you know, this is what this means.”
The memorial is a joint effort between the city, Keesler Federal Credit Union, the Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation and the Gold Star families.