Nov 11 2018
Jessica Bies | Delaware News Journal
A new monument at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Park honors local Gold Star families, the immediate relatives of U.S. military members killed while serving in conflict or war.
"Those who gave all suffered for love," keynote speaker and retired naval aviator William Coll said at a ceremony dedicating the new memorial Sunday. He is named after his uncle, part of a B-24 crew that was shot down over the Ploesti oil fields in Romania during World War II.
"If you believe that love is good, then they suffered for what is good."
The $48,000 black granite monument has two sides. One bears its name and describes it as "a tribute to Gold Star families and relatives who have sacrificed a loved one for our freedom."
The back side has four panels with pictures etched onto them, which stand for homeland, family, patriotism and sacrifice.
Judy Campbell, chair of the Gold Star Families of Delaware Memorial Monument Committee, said each panel has special significance.
Representing the homeland is a picture of the Delaware River and Bay Authority's Veterans Memorial Park, the site of Delaware's annual Memorial Day Service. On Sunday morning, it was also the site of a separate Veterans Day service.
Representing family is the picture of a Delaware family who lost their son to post-traumatic stress disorder and the "silent scars of war." They wished to remain anonymous.
Representing patriotism is the famous picture of six marines raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. The fourth panel, which represents sacrifice, has a picture of three gravestones.
Campbell said they are the graves of her brother, boyfriend and childhood friend, who are buried side-by-side in Arlington National Cemetery. Her brother, Keith Allen Campbell, was killed during the Vietnam War while administering aid to wounded soldiers and was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
At the center of the monument is the cut-out figure of a soldier, saluting visitors as they arrive to pay tribute to their loved ones' memories. After the ceremony, Delaware's Gold Star families laid yellow flowers at the base of the memorial, which will later be completed with a concrete walkway and two benches.
The Gold Star Family Memorial was designed and created by Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody" Williams, whose foundation now helps establish them in communities across the United States.
His son Chad Graham spoke at the ceremony Sunday.
"Gold Star Families, you are this nation's most precious treasures," he said.
Later, Campbell presented him with a small bag of sand from the beaches of Iwo Jima to give to his father, the sole surviving marine from World War II to still wear the Medal of Honor.
Find out more Williams and Gold Star family monuments at hwwmohf.org.