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Committee to begin phase two of Gold Star Families Memorial Monument

Nov 28 2023
Destiny Dingess | Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — New additions to the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument unveiled last month near Huntington’s Memorial Arch are planned, such as new flagpoles, benches and a small parking lot.

Phase two of the project will consist of three additional flag poles on either side of the monument to represent the six service branches.

The Woody Williams Gold Star Families Monument Committee will allow people from the service branches to adopt and take responsibility for upgrading the poles semi-annually whenever they need replacement.

Other projects for phase two will include the addition of four black granite benches to match the monument — two on each side of the monument.

One of the benches will be dedicated to the South Side Alliance and the monument committee.

Gold Star families bought the remaining three benches at $5,000 each in memory of their loved ones.

The committee will also add a tree line of nine trees planted from 11th Avenue behind the monument to Memorial Boulevard. Dan Ferguson, chairman of the Woody Williams Gold Star Families Monument Committee, said Landscaping by Hillcrest will plant the tree line in the next couple of weeks. The pine trees near Memorial Park will be cut down sometime Monday, Nov. 27.

“You’re going to see a tree line behind the monument, and you’re going to see a new tree line go down behind all the houses. Then it’s going to stop and come out to the boulevard. So, when traveling east or west on that boulevard, you can look over and define the park area,” Ferguson said.

The committee will also add a small parking lot for visitors.

“On the boulevard side where the sidewalk meets the boulevard, you go east, we’re going to leave eight feet, and then we’re going to pour a 40- by 25-foot concrete pad, which should accommodate four cars to pull in off the boulevard and park,” Ferguson said. “We’re going to have a connector sidewalk so that they can walk on concrete over to the sidewalk and up to the monument to pay respects to the monument. That’s probably going to be done somewhere right after the first of the year.”

Ferguson said most of the updates for phase two will start during the first half of 2024, besides the tree line, which the park board will plant in the next couple of weeks.

The Woody Williams Gold Star Families Monument Committee and the Southside Preservation & Enhancement Alliance started the monument project in June 2021 after “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War ll, told Ferguson, his longtime friend, that he would like to see a Gold Star Families Monument placed in Huntington near the Memorial Arch to honor the families of those whose loved ones died during military service.

Thirty days later, Williams died, and Ferguson brought his last request to the Southside Preservation & Enhancement Alliance When he approached the Southside Alliance and the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District board about the project and land, no one told him no, which he expected, Ferguson said.

“We expected a no from somebody, but everybody jumped on board,” Ferguson said during a recent Southside Preservation & Enhancement Alliance meeting Nov. 21.

The Gold Star Families monument alone was $53,308, and to complete the project in time for Oct. 2, which would have been Williams’ 100th birthday, the committee needed $100,000 to $120,000.

“When you mention Woody Williams, people write checks. They call and say ‘How can I help,’” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said people came out from every direction to help donate to the project. Jim Galloway from Pickett Concrete in Ohio donated and poured over 14 yards of concrete, while Landscaping by Hillcrest donated the landscaping to the project.

Because all of the concrete was donated, and $12,000 to $14,000 worth of landscaping was donated, the committee now has extra funds to go toward phase two of the project.

“We are in phase two; we’re not finished with the project,” Ferguson said.