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Gold Star Families Memorial Monument unveiled in heart of Hagatna

Jul 25 2022
Joan Aguon Charfauros | KUAM News

Unveiled during the island's 78th Liberation Day was the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, that is located in the heart of Hagatna. The monuments were started by the Woody Williams Foundation in recognition of Gold Star Family members and relatives, which are those who have lost a loved one for our freedom in the armed forces of the United States.

Hershel “Woody” Williams was the only living World War II Medal of Honor recipient, before passing away last month at 98. Williams was awarded the medal of honor by President Harry Truman in 1945 for his "extraordinary heroism". During the battle of Iwo Jima, he singlehandedly marched through a hailstorm of gunfire to operate six flamethrowers against Japanese forces for several hours and ultimately cleared a path for American troops.

Because of his bravery, a half-dozen enemy positions were destroyed.

The Woody Williams Foundation has been on a mission to create memorial monuments in recognition of Gold Star Family members and relatives, which are those who have lost a loved one for our freedom in the armed forces of the united states. It's a place where family can gather and honor those who have given so much.

On the morning of the island's 78th Liberation Day, an unveiling of Guam's Gold Star Memorial Monument was held at its location in Skinner Plaza. The day before, a luncheon was held at Alfredo's Steakhouse for not only the key donors to the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Project, but also Williams' grandson, Chad Graham, the president and CEO of the foundation, who was on island for the special unveiling.

He shared a moment of when he last visited with his grandfather and an encounter they had with two young men, saying, "It was just so meaningful to my grandfather; their gratitude and expression of that was based on their own family. Their mother had been saved through that liberation. And they with tears in their eyes were thanking my grandfather, for playing a role in that. And, of course, if you have any opportunity to be around him either in person or virtually, one of the things he would say, it's become our motto: 'The cause is greater than I.'"

Guam is the first U.S. territory with a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. To date there are over 175 active communities throughout all 50 states. Guam forever holds significant meaning to Graham and the family.

"Folks would thank my grandfather for what he did. They would thank my grandfather constantly. They would use the term 'hero.' Which he would quickly say - I'm not a hero, I was just doing my job. But to have that interaction, it took on a whole new meaning, of this place. I know for me personally, and for our family.

"This place is special to us. it's a part of our family."