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Ohio memorial honoring families of fallen service members to be dedicated in Columbus

May 23 2024
Stacia Naquin | CWCOLUMBUS

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — All gave some. Some gave all.

As we mark Memorial Day, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice, there’s an effort underway for a permanent memorial in Columbus to honor the families of our fallen.

The Ohio Gold Star Families Memorial is set to find a permanent home within Memorial Grove on the grounds of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

“I had never heard of or known what a Gold Star family member was,” said Brittnay McCall, now a Gold Star wife. “October 30th of 2007, I got a knock on the door.”

That knock signaled Brittnay McCall’s life would be changed forever with the news that her husband, Daniel, was killed in Iraq.

“When I lost Daniel, I think I struggled with my own identity and who I was, and I did not want to be identified as this widow, but I wanted to be able to carry on his name and his honor,” said McCall.

Her journey since has been one of advocacy for Gold Star families as part of her own healing.

“The reality is we like to refer to it as ‘families of our fallen’ because the losses that we are seeing, especially nowadays, are not ‘killed in action’, so gold star is an overall term, including our next of kin families,” said McCall.

“This is a club that nobody wants to be a member of,” said Jon Bennehoof, a Navy veteran who now serves as the Fundraising Director for the committee working to create the monument that will honor all Ohio Gold Star families.

The Gold Star Family Memorial was created by Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams to remember those families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.

The themes represented on the stone monument include homeland, family, patriotism, and sacrifice.

The groundbreaking has already taken place, and now the final efforts for fundraising and stonework are happening to make sure these families know the impact of their loved one’s sacrifice.

“They know, but it’s important they know that the community knows,” said Bennehoof.

For Brittnay, her Gold Star journey continues.

“It’s a part of my life, but I’ve been able to take that grief and take that journey and build my own life out of that and find love again and now build a family that I thought I would have all those years ago at 22 and 23 years old,” she said.

She hopes the community will rally around Gold Star families with the most important message of all.

“We are in this with you and we want to be here to support you and honor and remember your loved ones who are no longer here,” said McCall.

The dedication for the Ohio monument in Columbus is scheduled for September 29. More help is needed to reach the fundraising goal for this effort. If you’d like more information on how to help, click here.