Sep 30 2023
HUNTINGTON — The Southside Preservation and Enhancement Alliance has released additional details for the dedication and unveiling ceremony of the Woody Williams Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Huntington’s Memorial Park on Monday.
The event will take place Monday, Oct. 2, on what would have been Woody Williams’ 100th birthday. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn the new monument now shares with the War Memorial Arch at 11th Avenue and Memorial Boulevard.
“Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor winner from World War II, asked that a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument be placed in Huntington, seat of the West Virginia county he came home to in 1945. In fulfillment of this, his last known request, the monument has been erected precisely where he requested it be placed on Memorial Day 2022,” the alliance said in a news release.
So far, 131 of these monuments have been established through the Woody Williams Foundation. Each is a beautiful, black marble memorial to the families who have lost loved ones as the result of their service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Gold Star Family members are expected to attend the dedication Monday. Each family present will be given a yellow rose following the monument’s unveiling, so that those roses may be placed on the monument’s base in remembrance of their lost loved ones.
The Southside Alliance, which is responsible for all monument-related fundraising as well as the logistical aspects of the monument’s placement, has also planned the dedication, which will begin with a presentation of the colors by the Herschel Woody Williams Huntington Detachment #340, Marine Corps League. After the invocation, Broadway performer and Huntington native J. Mark McVey will sing the national anthem.
Williams’ longtime friend Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will be the keynote speaker. U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va.; Mayor Steve Williams; Park District President Dr. Rocco Morabito; Woody Williams’ daughter Tracie Ross and Woody Williams’ grandson and Foundation cofounder Brent Casey are scheduled to address the gathering as well.
McVey will follow with Woody Williams’ favorite song, “Bring Him Home,” which he has sung to 3,268 theater audiences while portraying Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables.”
As the ceremony comes to a close, country music star Lee Greenwood will sing his patriotic hit “God Bless the U.S.A.” Taps, a 21-gun salute and the retirement of the colors will follow.
Attendees are encouraged to arrive by 9:30 a.m. Both Memorial Boulevard and 11th Avenue, from 5th Street West to the Memorial Arch, will be closed to regular traffic starting at 7 a.m. Parking can be accessed by arriving via Memorial Boulevard from 14th Street West. Shuttle bus services will be running from 14th Street West to the Memorial Arch starting at 8:30 a.m.
Southside Alliance President Dan Gooding will open the dedication ceremony, and Southside Alliance Gold Star Monument Committee Chair Dan Ferguson will serve as master of ceremonies.
The entire program will be streamed live on Full Spectrum Media’s Facebook page.
Free cupcakes, soft drinks and water will be provided to attendees.