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Gold Star Family memorial underway in Shelby County

May 22 2021
Brennon Gurley | Spectrum News

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — A tribute to families who've lost loved ones in the military will soon stand at Shelbyville’s Veterans Memorial Park.

What You Need To Know

  • Shelby County breaks ground on monument in dedication to Gold Star Families
  • Woody Williams' foundation has helped dozens of Gold Star memorials be erected around the country
  • The first Gold Star Monument was built in 2013
  • A dedication ceremony for the Shelby County monument has been scheduled in October

"It’s an everyday event for us, everyday is Memorial Day for us," explained Greg Jacobs.

An addition at Shelbyville Veterans Memorial Park will soon offer a silent reminder to ensure that service members’ names live on forever.

"It gives us a place to honor him and pay respects other than just the cemetery," Jacobs said.

For Greg and Amy Jacobs, the emotions are still raw.

Almost five months ago, the Shelbyville couple lost their 21-year-old son David Jacobs to an car wreck in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Jacobs was a Shelby County High School graduate who served the country as an Army Specialist.

"Grief is really waves washing over you. Sometimes that ocean is strong and fierce like a hurricane type waves and sometimes it is calmer and you know it’s there,but it’s calm," Amy said.

A Gold Star Family is one whose relative has died while in service to the U.S. military.

"It’s a club that nobody wants to be apart of and they say that losing a child is the hardest grief that a person will ever go through," Greg said.

"This is a step in the grief journey, step in the healing process," Amy said.

Hershel "Woody" Williams is the last surviving Marine from World War II to wear the Medal of Honor. The 97-year-old is committed to honoring Gold Star families with a tribute.

"That represents their loved one and when I see somebody walk up and place their hand on a memorial as if that was their loved one it is a very emotional moment in time," Williams explained.

It’s part of a nationwide project led by Williams to honor those families who sacrificed a family member that gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The Shelbyville memorial is the 83rd monument in the United States. This will be the fourth monument in Kentucky.

"We as a society and we as country had really never recognized those families that sacrificed a loved one," Williams said.

Nearly a dozen Gold Star families attended the ceremony on Friday morning including Rick Hardesty. His brother, Edwin Hardesty Jr., who served in the United states Army in Vietnam died February 16, 1969.

He said his family is grateful for the monument.

"I think it's a great thing. I’m really happy they’re doing this so they can recognize my brother and I really appreciate it," says Hardesty.

Until then, this symbol of sacrifice will soon be another expression of American patriotism. A dedication ceremony for the Shelby County monument has been scheduled for October.

The foundation is continuing to accept donations to pay for final costs of the monument and its installation. Click here for more information on how to contribute to the memorial monument.