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Groundbreaking scheduled for Gold Star families memorial in Perrysburg

Sep 30 2019
Kate Snyder | Toledo Blade

Just days after she gave birth to their son in 2005, Veronica Mora’s husband, an Army sergeant, was killed in Iraq.

Now, in honor of all northwest Ohio families that have lost loved ones in military service — commonly known as Gold Star families — Mrs. Mora is working with the city of Perrysburg to erect a monument in Riverside Park to commemorate their sacrifice.

The monument is part of a project born from the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, located in Kentucky, which has dedicated 53 such monuments throughout the United States.

“We’re excited to bring it to northwest Ohio,” Mrs. Mora said.

Mrs. Mora grew up in Perrysburg and, other than a few years living in Georgia where her late husband, Sgt. Arthur Mora, Jr., was stationed, has lived there her whole life. She first met Hershel Woody Williams in 2013 and became interested in his monument project, which back then was just getting off the ground. The monuments are black granite, with a cut-out silhouette representing the lost loved one.

Mr. Mora grew up in East Los Angeles, Mrs. Mora said, and was continually baffled by picturesque Perrysburg. She knew there would likely never be a monument with his name on it in Ohio because he’s a California native, but she wanted to help provide something that could stand for all Gold Star families in northwest Ohio.

“I love the inclusivity of the monument,” she said.

Some residents, however, have expressed concerns about the size of the monument, which when completed will stand seven feet tall at its peak and 13 feet long, and about where it will be located in Riverside Park. Deborah Born, Perrysburg councilman, said residents have contacted her to say they were worried the monument would block the view of the river.

Jonathan Orser, former Perrysburg mayor and councilman, said he believes it would be more appropriate for the monument to be placed be in Fort Meigs Cemetery.

“[Riverside Park] would be, in my opinion, an unfortunate location,” he said.

City spokesman Shannon Solt said both the Historic Landmark Commission and city council were aware of the monument and its placement. According to the foundation, these monuments cost approximately $115,000, which is covered through donations and private funding.

Ms. Solt also said all the residents on Front Street, near where the monument would be located, were asked about the project and they all said they were fine with the monument’s placement.

Mrs. Mora said no one has expressed any concerns to her.

“I’ve been to Riverside Park. There’s no way you could block the river,” she said. “I feel [the Gold Star monument] adds to the park.”

Groundbreaking for the monument is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 18.