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Gold Star families break ground for new memorial monument in Riverside Park

Oct 18 2019
Bri Malaska |NBC24

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Gold Star families from around northwest Ohio are working to honor their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Families from the region held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning in Riverside Park for a new Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. The memorial will be the first of its kind in northwest Ohio to honor the lives that were lost and the sacrifices the families made. The national Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation is trying to help the community honor their sacrifice.

"Memorial day is not just one day on the calendar, but memorial day for these families is every day so this monument will provide another opportunity for families to come and pause and reflect and for the community to come and give thanks to those families for their sacrifice as well," said Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, Ohio House District 3.

For many of these families, not a day goes by that they don't think about their lost hero.

"This year being his 10th anniversary of [my son's] death in December, I think this is really great," said Linda Jennings.

"I'm a Gold Star wife," said Veronica Mora, who serves on the Northwest Ohio Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee. "My husband was killed Oct. 19, 2005 so this weekend alone is especially poignant for our family. Tomorrow is the 14-year anniversary of our hero dying."

There are currently only 47 completed monuments across the country and 59 in progress including one on the banks of the Maumee River. They're all designed by Hershel "Woody" Williams, one of only two living WWII veterans left to have received the congressional Medal of Honor.

"It's going to be special for all the families because it just is a way of not forgetting our service members that have paid the ultimate sacrifice," said Conni Urbanski-Brown, whose husband died in 2014.

"To honor the fallen heroes means everything to us since we've lost a son," said Charles Jennings, Linda's husband.

To allow all residents from the area to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before us while serving our country.

"When you feel represented and recognized it is a beautiful feeling," Mora said. "It's including all of the families that maybe aren't thought of as a Gold Star family."

Committee members said the monument is expected to cost between $60,000-$75,000 and will be funded entirely by private donations. The group is still looking for donations to create the memorial and hopefully have it up in the next six months to a year. Anyone interested in donating or getting involved can find out more on the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation website.