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Gold Star Families memorial draws closer at Naperville’s Veterans Park with potential $10,000 from Park District

Mar 30 2021
Rafael Guerrero | Chicago Tribune

The Naperville Park District may contribute $10,000 to the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Veterans Park, a project now more than halfway funded.

The memorial project -- which will honor families of fallen service members on the west end of Veterans Park -- has raised about $40,000 of its $77,000 goal, Gold Star Committee co-chair Jennifer Slown told the park district board Thursday evening. Slown said the memorial is to be built this summer or fall.

“This would allow us to keep on track and (the memorial) built in a timely manner,” she said.

A previous Naperville Sun story reported organizers want the memorial monument dedicated on Sept. 26 to coincide with Gold Star Mother’s Day and Family’s Day, which is observed the last Sunday in September.

Thursday’s update included plans for the park district to contribute $10,000 to the project -- a request the park board is supportive of. The park board gave the go-ahead for administrators to come back at an upcoming meeting with a proposal authorizing the contribution.

The Gold Star Families project is not a park district project, but Park District Planning Director Eric Shutes said giving $10,000 to the project is possible because its own Veterans Park improvements this year are coming in $10,000 under budget.

Slown said they have raised $5,000 from private donations and $35,000 from the City of Naperville’s special events and cultural amenities dollars, or SECA.

In early March, Naperville City Council approved an extra $20,800 in SECA funds for the Gold Star Families project because money set aside for canceled St. Patrick’s Day festivities went unused.

Slown said they have more fundraising campaigns scheduled as they push toward their $77,000 goal.

“The additional financial support would definitely go toward making this project come to fruition,” added Ron Amato, a Century Walk committee member; Century Walk is among the organizations involved with the memorial.

The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument will be one of the first of its kind in Illinois. Another memorial in Springfield also eyes a 2021 dedication, said Alex Nauert, director of programs for the Gold Star Families nonprofit Woody Williams Foundation.

A list of monuments from the Woody Williams Foundation shows 79 Gold Star Families monuments have been installed nationwide and another 79 Gold Star Families projects are in progress, including the Naperville and Springfield memorials and a third one at Great Lakes Naval Station in Lake County.