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Pay It Forward: Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument

Apr 11 2019
Todd Kunz | Local News 8

BANNOCK COUNTY, Idaho (KIDK/KXPI) - A new memorial is being built in Bannock County. Eyewitness News anchor Todd Kunz wanted to find out more about it and what makes it so unique. Plus, to Pay It Forward.

"What makes this memorial different is it remembers the fallen, but also recognizes and remembers the families," said Rebecca Webb, chairperson of the committee behind the monument.

Webb met Hershel "Woody" Williams at a convention in the summer of 2018. She said Williams is the last surviving Marine to wear a Medal of Honor from World War II. He created the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to bring a memorial to every state. Webb wants to see one in Idaho.

"I was inspired to bring this monument back to the state. It was after the loss of my son. I lost my son Master Sgt. Christopher Webb, in June of 2017," said Webb.

Christopher Webb was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument will be built in the new Northgate development, north of Pocatello and east of Interstate 15. The land is donated by Portneuf Development. The plaza will sit on a half acre with parking and a path with informational markers leading to the monument. The monument will be made of black granite, like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In the center, there will be a state of a soldier saluting, facing west.

"When the sun sets in the evening, it will create a silhouette," said Jean Haneke, finance manager for the committee.

Forty-four stars, one for each Idaho county, will encircle the monument. There will also be five feathers representing each Native American tribe in the state.

Ten flags will surround the monument. They include the U.S. flag, being saluted by the soldier; the POW/MIA flag; the Gold Star Mothers flag; the Honor and Remembrance flag; one flag from each military branch, and the state of Idaho flag.

"We want it to be a place where families and all of the citizens can just reflect on what's happened and remember our fallen," said Haneke.

The monument will cost approximately $250,000 to complete. The amount is being raised entirely through donations and some grants.

"I've never wavered, that for some reason, I am supposed to do this. It might be to help other Gold Star families around the state," said Webb.

Time to Pay It Forward.

"The monument means a lot of things to me, Todd. You know, a lot of emotions in this. I think it has been healing for me, good for me, but I am excited moving forward," said Webb.

"Rebecca, and Jean? I'm Kory and I'm with Mountain American Credit Union," said a man walking into the room. "We've heard about what you're doing and all the time, effort, sacrifice that you're putting into bringing forth the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument for our community. And because of that, I'm here today to Pay It Forward. So I've brought with me today, $500 in cash that I know you are going to be able to put forth good effort, good use of it in bringing this momument to our community. So on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, we would like to Pay It Forward," said Kory Carling.

"Thank you. Thank you so much," said Webb.

"You're welcome," said Carling.

"Very appreciative," said Webb.

"You betcha," said Carling.

"Thank you," said Webb.

The groundbreaking will be held Apr. 24. Construction will take place over the summer, with completion anticipated for this fall.

The Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument committee does accept donations. The Facebook page can be found here.