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New monument recognizes Gold Star families

Jun 19 2024
Rod King | Greater Ft. Wayne Business Weekly

FORT WAYNE — Unveiling of a new monument recognizing and honoring Gold Star Families will be held at 1 p.m. June 22 at Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum at 2122 O’Day Road.

One side of the monument honors and recognizes Gold Star families and the legacy of their loved ones who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The opposite side shows personalized scenes featuring Homeland, Family, Patriotism and Sacrifice. Four granite benches accompany the work.

The impressive new monument, which was designed and made specifically to honor Northeast Indiana families who have lost loved ones in military service, is made of black granite, is 13 feet long, is divided into four sections and has a seven-foot tall cut-out/silhouette of a soldier in the middle of the largest two sections.

The monument is made possible by the Woody Williams Foundation which was formed specifically to raise money to place similar monuments in all 50 states and one territory. A total of 136 have been installed throughout the country with many more planned to be dedicated.

The one here in Fort Wayne, which was funded and paid for by money raised by the local committee Is the fifth in Indiana. Others are located in Indianapolis, Fishers, West Lafayette and Dyer.

Williams, who was the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from World War II, has always felt that the widows and mothers who received the Gold Star for experiencing the loss of their loved ones in military service has been long overlooked and should be honored just like veterans. His motto for the Foundation is “the cause is greater than I.” He passed away two years ago.

Former Shrine board member and Vietnam veteran Terry Hudson, jump-started the campaign by donating $50,000. The local committee raised the remainder of the $125,000 through other generous donations to get the monument placed at the Veterans National Shrine, Memorial and Museum here. It can be found directly behind the Korean War Monument.