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New monument honors northeast Indiana's "Gold Star Families"

Jun 27 2024
The Journal Gazette

The National Gold Star Family Registry lists 12,132 Hoosiers. This registry represents not only American service members who died in conflicts from World War II to the present but also their immediate families who endured profound loss.

The poignancy of the loss is evident at the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum at 2122 O’Day Road.

The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is a two-sided tribute crafted from black granite. It measures 13 feet in length and features a 7-foot-tall cutout of a soldier.

One side is a tribute to Gold Star families. The other side continues the narrative with four granite panels headlined Homeland, Family, Patriot and Sacrifice.

The monument is the fifth of its kind in the state, explicitly designed to honor northeast Indiana families, joining others in Indianapolis, Fishers, West Lafayette and Dyer. This local connection makes the monument a source of pride for our community. Nationwide, 136 such monuments have been installed.

The monument was built with support from the Woody Williams Foundation, named for the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II; he wanted to ensure that Gold Star families receive the recognition due them. Williams died two years ago; his legacy continues through these monuments.

Former Shrine board member and Vietnam veteran Terry Hudson, along with the local committee and other generous contributors, collectively raised the remaining $125,000 for the monument. This shared effort is a testament to the community’s commitment to honoring our Gold Star families.

The “Gold Star Family” designation dates back to World War I.

Families with members serving in the military displayed a service flag in a window of their home. This flag featured a blue star for each family member serving in the armed forces. If a family member was killed in action, the blue star would be replaced by a gold star. This practice was officially recognized by the federal government in 1918.

After the war, American Gold Star Mothers Inc., was established in 1928 by Grace Darling Seibold, who lost her son in World War I. The group continues to provide support to mothers who have lost children in military service and played a significant role in formalizing the Gold Star tradition.

“Following the end of World War II, Congress designated the Gold Star Lapel Pin,” according to a 2022 article for the Arlington National Cemetery website. “The pin was modeled after the banners and features a gold star with a purple background surrounded by laurel leaves. According to law, the United States military must present the lapel pin to the immediate family member of the deceased.”

In this election year, as candidates and citizens debate the future of our nation, the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument stands as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made for our freedom. It also serves as a reminder of the price of maintaining our republic, a cost we take for granted at our peril.