May 12 2021
Nicholas Phillips | WENY News
Elmira, NY (WENY) -- A Chemung County man is looking to honor those service members and their families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Jim Hackett is looking to build a Gold Star monument right in Elmira, right on West Center Street. The plot that was chosen sits right on W. Center St., out front in Pulaski Park. Now that the plot has been chosen, for Hackett, now comes the hard part which includes raising money for the monument. But Hackett is taking on that challenge in hopes of having the monument built optimistically by the fall of 2021 and hopefully by the spring of 2022.
“It represents the families of the armed forces that have lost their lives in service of this country,” said Hackett.
The Woody Williams Foundation, with who Hackett is working with, has monuments that are black onyx. They feature four pillars and feature a person giving a salute which helps shape two pillars, one pillar has a marine corps memorial and another part is for those first responders who’ve lost their lives.
Siting out-front in Pulaski park, it’ll be just down the road from Woodlawn National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veteran’s Museum. This however is more than just a project for Hackett. While doing a little family research he discovered that his grandmother was a gold star mother. He has two uncles buried at Woodlawn National Cemetery.
“There are pavilions out back behind this building and barbecue pits, there's a playground for your kids. It's an ideal spot,” said Hackett. “This site is a little bit secluded so when you come here to visit your loved one you don't want to have a lot of traffic and a lot of people around.”
Hackett is looking for re-enforcements. Some material need for the project has already been donated.
“We're looking for contractors to do the dirt work, we're looking for contractors to do the form for the concrete,” said Hackett.
“I was glad that Jim asked me to be a part of this because I don't think our veterans have been said thank you properly enough,” said Carl Saunders, who’s helping Hackett.
Saunders said with some much division in the world this is a perfect time for this project. Saunders says the 8 ft. by 13 ft. monument is for everyone and is all-inclusive.
“It's not just a white thing, it's a together thing and this is what we're missing so much in this world,” said Saunders.
The monument is for the community, but Hackett is asking for the public’s help in any way they can. People like Saunders have already volunteered, but Hackett’s also looking for donations. He says that any amount helps and anyone can donate.
“I hope to have it up in the fall but maybe not till next spring but it's an ongoing project,” said Hackett.
They’re hoping to raise at least $75,000 to honor gold star families. More information on how you can donate can be found here. They ask if making out a check to put in the memo line Elmira GSFMM project.