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Honoring those left behind, Shelby County breaks ground on monument to Gold Star Families

May 21 2021
Lawrence Smith |

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- On Memorial Day, the nation will pause to remember the military men and women who gave their lives for their country.

In Shelby County, there is an effort to honor the families they left behind.

The community broke ground on a monument to Gold Star Families, those whose loved ones died while on active duty in the military.

“This is a club nobody wants to belong to,” said Greg Jacobs, of Shelbyville.

Jacobs and his wife Amy became part of the Gold Star Family in December when two soldiers showed up at their door on Christmas Eve.

“Looking out the doorstep and seeing two people standing there. The first thing your mind says is, ‘No ... not my family,’” said Amy Jacobs.

Their son, Army Specialist David Jacobs, had been killed in a car wreck in Colorado. To honor him, the Jacobs — along with their daughter Hannah — became part of the effort to build a Gold Star Monument in Shelby County.

“It gives us a place to come and honor and pay respects,” said Greg.

“And this is a step in the grief journey, in the healing process,” added Amy.

The first Gold Star Monument was built in 2013 by a foundation begun by Woody Williams, the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient.

“We decided those families needed some kind of recognition,” Williams told WDRB News.

Williams has made it his new mission to build Gold Star monuments in every state.

“We as a country had never really recognized those families that sacrificed a loved one. We've never done anything like that,” he said.

The Woody Williams Foundation has now broken ground on 82 monuments in the U.S. and Guam.

“Honestly, it means everything,” said Tyra Anderson of Louisville, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

Anderson lost her father, Army Capt. Timothy Anderson, to cancer after two tours of Afghanistan.

“People don't think of ... someone gave their dad for the cause, someone gave their husband, someone gave their wife, someone gave their child,” she said.

Now, in Shelby County, people will know.

“Memorial Day is coming up, and that's a one day out of the year event for most people,” said Greg Jacobs. “It's an everyday event for us. Every day is Memorial Day for us.”

The monument is scheduled to be completed and dedicated in October.

It is still only half paid for. To contribute to the Shelby County Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, click here.